Phelps Lake is one of the most beautiful hikes in Grand Teton National Park. When considering this hike, please note that there is a 7 mile loop around the lake, and a much shorter loop that goes to the edge of the Lake. We did this shorter loop called Lake Creek-Woodland Trail loop.
Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop starts at the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve. The preserve is west of the town of Moose, Wyoming. To reach the trailhead for the hike, take Moose-Wilson Road southwest for 3.6 miles. There is a signed entry to the preserve on the left side of the road.
Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve is very busy! We recommend arriving very early, or after dinner to make this hike. If you arrive when the parking lot is full, attendants will direct you to wait in line. You’ll sit in your vehicle, waiting for parking spots to clear and the people in front of you to find spots. Depending upon the time of day, it can take quite awhile to find parking, which leaves you sitting in your vehicle.
We hiked close to dinnertime and only waited for one vehicle in front of us, which turned out to be only about 5-10 minutes. From the parking area, we walked along the trail to the preserve headquarters. Inside there are several art displays and a movie. A ranger is also on hand to answer questions if the building is open.
The trail is a loop, and shortly after the preserve building, you’ll choose left across the bridge, or right to the small man-made waterfall. As far as terrain and distance, it doesn’t matter which route you take. Both routes cross the road after a short distance. Be careful as cars move along Moose-Wilson Road fairly quickly.
Though there were a lot of people on the trail, at least judging by the parking lot, we enjoyed the next section of the trail without seeing too many people. The lodgepole forest is thick, and there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. Our favorites were the ospreys that were skimming along the river. We made sure we were carrying bear spray, but even if you don’t see animals, the forest is beautiful and peaceful. The trail follows along the river for most of the hike.
Eventually, the trail passes the bathrooms. Just a few more steps and you arrive at Phelps Lake. There are some pretty amazing overlooks, and we took a lot of pictures. The boys had fun throwing rocks while we rested.
The trail leads along the lake for a very short distance, but it can be a bit confusing as there are trails to the water’s edge, to the bathroom, and the correct loop trail. None of these trails will get you lost, but the correct trail parallels the trail you came in on until it reaches a bridge. This bridge crosses a shallow area and then turns back into the forest. We were glad we had a map to guide us. There are maps in the parking area, and at the preserve.
We enjoyed the hike to Phelps Lake. Despite the parking situation, it turned out to be one of the nicest hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Check out our list of family-friendly hikes in Grand Teton for more ideas.