Hike Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude

Lake Solitude

The striking beauty and majesty of the Teton Range is ever present on the journey through Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  14.2 Miles Round Trip 
Trailhead(s):  Shuttle Boat at Jenny Lake
Elevation Gain:  2,420’
Trail Type:  Out and Back
Dogs:  Not Allowed
Difficulty:  Strenuous
Permit Required?  Yes – National Park Entry Fee $35 
Considerations:  Additional Cost for Shuttle Boat – Round Trip Fee $18 Adult, $15 Senior, $10 Child / Bears / Snow
Season:  Summer & Fall


The journey to Lake Solitude in Grand Teton National Park takes hikers through a magical landscape.  The views are huge, the waterfalls are dramatic, and the stream crossings are picturesque, but these words simply don’t do justice to the majesty of this hike.  The scene is breathtakingly astounding, and the miles pass underfoot almost as if time is standing still.  This is a bucket list hike.  Although it is long and tough, it is also incredibly rewarding.


Elevation & Snow

Elevation and length combine to make this a strenuous hike.  For those hiking early in the season, the level of difficulty increases substantially if the snow has not yet melted.  Because Lake Solitude sits at an elevation of 9,035 feet, hikers can expect to find significant amounts of snow on the higher elevations of this trail even in the summer.  Trudging through it is not easy.  We hiked this trail in June and there was A LOT of snow for the last couple of miles out to the lake.  We saw hikers in shorts and sneakers.  They were cold and wet, and they were NOT happy hikers.  As such, inquire at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center about trail conditions and prepare accordingly, especially if hiking earlier in the season.

Take the Shuttle Boat

If going all the way to Lake Solitude, do yourself a favor and cut approximately 6 miles off of this 20+ mile hike by springing for the shuttle boat.  The short boat ride lets hikers pick up the trail on the far side of Jenny Lake, turning a 20 mile hike which is impossible for most, into a 14 mile hike which greatly improves the chance of making it out to Lake Solitude.  Our hike began after departing the shuttle boat.

A hike up through the trees brought us to Cascade Canyon.  This canyon is drop dead gorgeous.  Rock underfoot and alongside the trail are surrounded by unimaginable beauty.  The snow tipped peaks of the Grand Tetons provide a stunning backdrop to Cascade Creek, and the water cascading off of them creates luxurious and impressive waterfalls.  The open, rocky area is a great place to watch for moose as well.  Finally rocks give way to earth, and the trail moves into a gorgeous forest for the remainder of its journey through Cascade Canyon.

Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude

After traveling over four miles through Cascade Canyon, the trail splits left and right at the Forks of Cascade Canyon.  The trail to the right (north) to Lake Solitude also leads to a lovely stream crossing with a bridge.  For those not determined to get to Lake Solitude this is a perfect place to linger before heading back towards Jenny Lake.  Those headed to Lake Solitude will do so on a trail which begins to climb more aggressively.  There is another 1,500 feet of elevation gain to go.  On the “up” side, however, the views which open up are astounding.  The mountains surrounding the trail as it works its way through the valley here are beyond breathtaking, and they are in your face.  Be sure to turn around periodically as it is 360 degrees of amazing all the way out to the lake.

Lake Solitude was mostly still covered with ice and snow for our visit.  There were patches of clear water where the ice had broken up, allowing the sunlight to penetrate.  The resulting brilliant aquamarine highlights beneath the ice and snow atop the water added incredible contrast, color, and loveliness to the scene.  Following a much needed lunch break, we turned around and headed back, taking a few last long looks at the lake and the peaks surrounding it.

Since we were hiking through snow I can only imagine the beautiful wildflowers that lay in that valley, waiting for their chance to bloom and greet the hikers traveling through.  One day I shall return for a late season hike so I can see them for myself.

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information

Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude Slideshow

(Click image to expand.)

Gear We Use for Day Hiking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for day hiking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

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