- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
With little elevation gain, the hike around Phelps Lake in Grand Teton National Park is a great family-friendly walk, especially perfect for small children – plus there are fewer people here than Jenny Lake. The sandy beach at the far end is also ideal for a picnic and a swim.
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Route Description for Phelps Lake
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and the trails through it are brand new, so the facilities are pristine! The parking lot is very small and usually fills around 9 AM, so plan to arrive early.
From the parking lot head towards the visitor center where the trail will begin. From the “Preserve Center” turn right at the first fork along Woodland Trail. This wide path winds through the forest and offers a nice secluded nature walk. If you desire even more seclusion, take your first right along the Woodland Trail to the Boulder Ridge Trail. This single-track gains some more elevation and gives a small view across the plains.
Coming down from the Boulder Ridge Trail, you’ll find yourself seamlessly joining the Phelps Lake Trail. This route circumnavigates Phelps Lake, and is the path you will follow for most the hike. As you walk, look across the lake up to Prospectors Mountain on the right and Mount Hunt on the left. Around halfway up this side of the lake you will come across a massive boulder sticking into the water. This diving board is a perfect rock for cliff jumpers, so be prepared if you are interested.
On the far side of the lake you will arrive at a stunning white sandy beach. This is where the benefit of Phelps Lake over Jenny Lake really shines, as there are so few people here! It’s absolutely a perfect lunch spot. We saw backpackers inflating their sleeping pads and going for a float in the mild-temperature water, and envied their relaxation.
Continuing around the lake you will come to a junction. Walk up to the right a couple hundred meters to get a view into Death Canyon – it's worth the short diversion. Return and continue walking on the Phelps Lake Loop Trail. Along the west side of the lake there are numerous small rocky and sandy beaches to enjoy, though they are less gorgeous then the northern beach. Huckleberry Point has large boulders that are perfect for sun tanners and those just wanting to soak in the views.
As you return, take the Lake Creek Trail to finish the hike.
Insider Hints for Phelps Lake
- Bring a bathing suit, towel, picnic lunch and anything else you would need for a beach day. The secluded nature of Phelps Lake allows for a memorable swim and sun tan.
- Pick up a map and talk to the helpful naturalist in the “Preserve Center” (visitor center)
Getting to the Phelps Lake Trailhead
From Colter Bay or Jenny Lake head south towards Moose. At Moose, turn right onto Moose Wilson Rd. in the direction towards Teton Village and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Follow this very narrow road until you see the sign for the Preserve, then turn left into the parking lot. You can also access this route coming from Moose and heading North.
Phelps Lake Elevation Graph
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Phelps Lake Reviews
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