If you're like most people who see Grand Teton National Park, it's a one time event. In addition, you probably have only a day or two to take in the sights as you're also spending time in nearby Yellowstone National Park or other locations.
If you really want to experience the beauty of this area, you need to leave your car and take off on foot. There are numerous day hikes available at Grand Teton National Park, some of them are quite easy and others much more challenging. Once you pick up some good trail maps at the Visitor's Information building, you'll need to be planning how you'll be spending your time. The following short to medium length hikes would be my top recommendations for the average vacationer.
I've selected these three trails for their easy to moderate level of difficulty and reasonable distance, while trying to assure they provide good views of the natural landscape and beauty of the park.
1. Grand View Point. This trail lies at the north end of the park, south of Colter Bay. The Emma Matilda and Two Ocean Lake trails are nearby, just to the east. These two trails are scenic with good close up views of the lakes and offer an easy to moderate walk among gently rolling terrain with plenty of meadows. Hiking them though will consume a few hours of your time. However, the hike to Grand View although much steeper, will only take just over an hour and give a near 360 degree view of the flats below, with Jackson lake in clear view that the Tetons as a backdrop. Therefore, my choice would be the Grand View Point trail. Once the summit is reached, hikers can turn around rather than hiking the full distance. For some, frequent rest breaks may be important along this trail.
2. Leigh Lake Trail. Taking the one-way road that splits off of the main scenic loop on the west side of the park near Jenny Lake, you will find trails for String Lake and Leigh Lakes. These hikes will provide close up and serene views of these pretty mountain lakes. Swimming is allowed in areas, and pines provide a quite place to walk. The Leigh Lake trail is 2 miles round trip and is almost completely level.
3. Jenny Lake and the Hidden Falls. The Jenny Lake trail will take a bit of time, over 6 hours round trip, but it's an easy hike. Of course, you can also purchase tickets to take a boat across the lake to hike to the Hidden Fall in only 1 hour. (I would recommend this option for many people) The hiking is moderate. Inspiration Point is then just another half mile up the trail.
Just about any of the lake trails are worthy if you have additional time. Holly Lake Taggart Lake, Bradley Lake and so forth provide moderate hiking and nice views. The Canyon trails are more strenous and more spectacular at times. Casual hikers just need to turn around when they don't have the ability to make the entire trip. Taking water, a food source, and appropriate clothing to assure warmth and protection from possible rain is important.