Lake Solitude, Gem of the Grand Tetons
Lake Solitude is a picture perfect alpine lake that graces the high country of the Grand Teton mountain range. Lake Solitude, at an elevation of 9,035-feet is at the head of the North Fork of Cascade Canyon, a canyon that provides a stunning journey while traveling to Solitude. It is the largest lake in the park that is only accessible by trail. The views from its shores of the back side of Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Teewinot Mountain, collectively known as the Cathedral Group certainly makes the effort of getting there worth it; this is the best of Grand Teton scenery. Speaking from the heart of a photographer, the scene looking from the north side of the lake south to the Grand Teton is one of the most photogenic scenes I have ever set may camera upon.
Lake Solitude sits behind a glacial moraine in a large cirque where trees are sparse, but alpine wildflowers are abundant. It is a tiny little lake left over from the melting glaciers thousands of years ago. A half-mile in circumference situated at the head of north Cascade Canyon and is a popular destination for hikers and backpackers. It’s one of the most popular backcountry destinations in Grand Teton National Park and many people even try to squeeze it into one lengthy day-hike.
To the north, you can see a trail climbing higher for a couple of miles before dropping down into Paintbrush Canyon on the far side of the ridge. A seasoned hiker may be able to make the trip up Cascade Canyon, over the divide, and back down Paintbrush Canyon in a single day but for most people, it's a two-day trip. Most prefer an up and back route up Cascade Canyon.
To get to Lake Solitude takes some effort; Lake Solitude is a strenuous 18.4 round-trip to Lake Solitude. The journey can be shortened by four-miles if you take the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake. Follow popular Cascade Canyon Trail to Hidden Falls, and then continue up to Inspiration Point overlooking Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole. This beautiful hike has views of the Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot. While there’s no disputing this hike is long, valleys of wildflowers, plenty of wildlife, moose are common, bears are often a treat, and up-close-and-personal views of the park’s biggest peaks keep you distracted. Even if they don’t, when you finally spill out onto Solitude Lake you’ll see the effort was worth it.
I have seen people fishing the lake, and I assume that native cutthroat would be the catch of the day.
From the Cascade Canyon trailhead on the west shore of Jenny Lake, Lake Solitude is a distance of 7.2 miles and there is an altitude gain of 2,252 feet. An alternate route to the lake from the north begins at String Lake and steeply climbs through Paintbrush Canyon to Paintbrush Divide and then descends to Lake Solitude after a 11.5 mile hike with an altitude increase of 3,500 feet to the divide.