Hiking Taggart/Bradley Lake Loop

The sky looked angry, filled with grey clouds and white mist that concealed even the tallest of mountains. After only 2 miles of hiking, we hit Taggart Lake.

Even on a cloudy day, the lake was smooth as glass. On the surface of the lake, the ominous Grand Teton (13,770 ft.) reflects snow-packed mountains--trails for another day. The lakes were named for two members of Hayden's 1872 expedition.


On March 1st, 1872, President Grant passed a bill to create the nations first national park--Yellowstone. In order for this to happen, Ferdinand Hayden asked congress to fund his expedition. Hayden received a $40,000 grant to pursue an expedition of the Yellowstone area and find the source of the Missouri/Yellowstone Rivers.

Hayden created a team of experts, including chief geologist Frank H. Bradley and his assistant, William Rush Taggart. The party split in two: half explored the Yellowstone river, while the other half explored the Snake River. Bradley and Taggart joined the Snake River crew. On July 24th, Bradley's party camped on the west side of the Tetons before deciding to hike the tallest mountain in the valley, the Grand Teton. (13770 ft.) The party forgot to carry the flag to mark their position on the summit, and to this day historians doubt the party ever reached the top of the mountain. All that work for nothing. What a bummer. Bradley and Taggart Lakes are named after these two explorers.

Driving Directions

The Taggart Lake trailhead is one of the first parking lot areas inside Grand Teton National Park’s Moose Entrance. Once inside of the park, from this entrance drive 3 miles and the parking lot is on the left (W). You can calculate turn-by-turn directions here on Google Maps.

The Trail

Once parked, it’s an easy walk to the trailhead. (Let’s hope, because getting lost in a parking lot is the worst)

From the trailhead, walk .2 miles to the Taggart Lake Trail. You will notice that the trail splits. Both paths lead to Taggart Lake. The fork on the left leads to the Beaver Creek trail. Take the right fork leading to Taggart Lake via the Taggart Lake Trail. Soon after the split, you will find a bridge over the scenic Taggart Creek.

Once pass the creek, the trail breaks off into a gully. Here you will spot evidence of the 1985 blaze that burned much of the area.

At 1.3 miles, the trail to Bradley and Taggart divides. The trail on the left leads to Taggart Lake, while the trail on the right leads to Bradley Lake. Bear left to continue on the Taggart Lake Trail to Taggart Lake.

At 1.8 miles, the trail hits Taggart Lake. This is one of the most beautiful sights in the area, with blue water reflecting the 13,770-foot Grand Teton in the background.

The Taggart Lake Trail ends at Taggart Lake. To get to Bradley Lake, take the Valley Trail on the right. This path follows the eastern shore of Taggart Lake before climbing a small ridge that separates Bradley from Taggart.

After dropping 100 feet, the trail hits Bradley Lake’s southeast shoreline at 2.9 miles. Here you have two options. If you’re up for a little adventure, continue .3 miles to reach a boardwalk that crosses Bradley Lake’s northern narrow neck. If you’re pressed for time, hike back up over the ridge with the trail on your right to reach the parking lot.

This trail really isn’t too bad as far as difficulty goes. The elevation doesn’t change much, and most of the trail drives across flatland sagebrush.

Taggart/Bradley Trail Map

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Labels: Guides

NPS Taggart/Bradley Maps
American Southwest
Jackson Hole Hikes

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