The hike to Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park is a classic. This is the sister hike to Paintbrush Divide featuring great rewards and minimal elevation gain. And although it’s on the longer side, the stunning alpine Lake Solitude grants unbelievable views of the Grand Tetons.
From Colter Bay, head south down the John D. Rockefeller Parkway. At the first intersection turn right down Teton Parkway towards Jenny Lake. After nearly 21.0km turn right at the South Jenny Lake junction. Alternatively, from Moose drive north on the Teton Parkway and turn left at the South Jenny Lake junction. Park anywhere – this lot fills up quickly!
|When to do|
June through October
Out and back
For this hike, we advise skipping the tedious 4.0km hike around the lake and instead take the Jenny Lake boat shuttle. The cost for an adult is $15 round trip. From the ferry dock at the far end turn left and follow the signs towards Inspiration Point. This short climb is not too steep, and gives you a nice view over Jenny Lake. Early in the morning (at the start of the hike) there is beautiful light over the lake.
You soon pass a diversion for Hidden Falls. These falls are stunning and worth the short detour, though in 2016 they are closed for construction.
Continue along the Cascade Canyon trail, past Inspiration Point. This trail remains very level for its entirety as it meanders beside the slow-flowing Cascade Creek. There are stunning views up Storm Point, the Rock of Ages to the right, and Teewinot Mountain to the left. This part of the hike is shaded by trees, but still gives good views of the creek and the mountains.
After some hiking, you will reach the Cascade Canyon fork. Turn right up the north fork towards Lake Solitude and Paintbrush Divide. You will again start to climb and soon find yourself out of the trees. Look backwards and behind you to see the majestic Grand Teton and Mt. Owen. The views of these two mountains just get better as you hike, so save the photos for later!
This valley is lined with rocky ridges and filled with wildflowers. If you started early in the morning, you will be graced by a cool climb, however those who started later will be dripping with sweat as they climb in direct sunlight. After gaining several ridges and passing through boulder fields you will crest a plateau and find Lake Solitude. This lake is usually not very solitary, but still gorgeously beautiful!
Some may swim in the lake, however most should choose to relax and spend as much time as possible soaking in the high alpine ridges that surround the deep blue lake. Above, you will be able to see Little Peak and a huge, perfectly horizontal rock ridge that forms a wall around the far end of the plateau.
Return the way you came, or for a longer hike you can go up Paintbrush Divide and return down Paintbrush Canyon. However each hike is so stunning that they warrant doing on separate days.
Bring a large picnic to have at Lake Solitude. It is the perfect picnic spot in the park.
Starting early will make the last climb up to Lake Solitude cooler and more comfortable.
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