Hiking to Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park
Delta Lake is a beautiful bright-blue alpine lake that sits at about 9000 feet in elevation in Grand Teton National Park. The hike to Delta Lake is about 8.3 miles round trip. Hikers will make a moderate to strenuous 2400 foot climb in order to see it.
Lupine Meadows Trailhead
The trail begins at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, which is where several other hikes begin as well. There is one pit toilet in the parking lot. We camped at Jenny Lake the previous night, which is only about 8 minutes away (driving) from the trailhead. We arrived just before 7am and the official parking lot was completely full. There are lots of overflow spots along the road and we got one of the closest spots there.
Apparently, everyone else had read to arrive by 7 as well, because it seemed like about a hundred people arrived at the same time. The line for the bathroom was about ten people long and took at least 30 minutes as some people were taking their time. However, I was glad we waited since there are no other bathrooms on the trail.
First Section (2 miles)
The first mile or so through the woods was fairly easy as the trail runs parallel to the mountain range. As it turns towards the mountains, the incline becomes moderate, and you start to get views of Bradley and Taggart Lakes. It was smokey from the nearby wildfires while we were there, so the views were somewhat limited. We saw an elk up close to the trail in this section!
Switchbacks (~1.5 miles)
At about two miles from the trailhead, the trail forks. Turning left will take you to Bradley and Taggart Lakes. Head straight and follow the signs for Amphitheater Lake. The trail gets more strenuous and climbs up a series of switchbacks. We made sure to count the switchbacks, since the unmarked trail to Delta Lake turns off of the sixth one.
Delta Lake Trail (~0.7 miles)
The Delta Lake trail is not maintained by the park. This means that there are no signs pointing you in the right direction. Since we started the hike early in the morning, there weren’t many people around to ask which way was the right direction. Fortunately, there happened to be someone standing at the turn off that confirmed we were going the right way.
This section gets even more strenuous and is not for those afraid of heights. We started going through the woods and the trail narrowed a bit from the previous maintained path. If there are people around, follow where everyone else is going. We had no one to follow and an unclear trail description downloaded to my phone, so we ended up taking a wrong turn. Shortly after starting this section, you will come to a boulder field and will need to get across. This boulder field wasn’t too wide and didn’t take long.
After another short walk through the woods, you will come to another large boulder field. My trail description said to cross it all the way to the other side, which is wrong! Instead, you will turn to the left (upwards) and cross a bit of the field vertically. Imagine our dismay when we were on the other side of the field and saw several people who had been behind us reaching the top in a matter of minutes. We ended up crossing back the way we came, but more diagonally to cut off some distance. On the bright side, I actually liked this part a lot!
Once we got back to the trail, the climb really began. It was straight up a dirt slope with not many rocks to brace yourself on. I preferred the boulder field! The distance of this last stretch is short though, so it doesn’t take very long. We arrived at Delta Lake in about three hours from the trailhead. The view is gorgeous and was a great place to eat our lunch that we brought.
Our hike down only took us about two hours. The steep section at the very top took a bit longer than it did going up since it was easier to slide down. I also fell quite a way on the hike down which slowed us up a bit.
I really enjoyed this hike and would recommend it to anyone with a little hiking experience!