National Parks/Monuments Yellowstone

Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop to Phelps Lake | Grand Teton

(Last Updated On: August 24, 2021)

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.

The Preserve is a beautiful spot.

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.

You will need to walk from the parking area up to the preserve building to find the trail.

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.

This is the trail that starts near the preserve building.
Shortly after you begin there is a small waterfall.
We chose to take the Lake Creek trail to the lake and the Woodland Trail on the way back.
The Lake Creek trail crosses the bridge to the other side of the river.

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.

The trail walks through the shady forest.
The Lake Creek trail started out pretty rocky.
Soon the trail crosses the road.
There are lots of places to stop for pics along this hike.
The hike follows the river the entire way, and we saw a few Osprey.
Osprey look similar to Bald Eagles, but they are smaller and their head isn’t entirely white.

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 right to the edge of Phelps lake.
The lake is beautiful.
There were enough people, so we were able to get a family picture.
You can walk along the edge and throw a few rocks.

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 took the Woodland Trail back to the preserve.
This trail is full of great views.
The Woodland Trial seemed less rocky, but a little steeper on the way up.

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.

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