Since Grand Teton is right next to Yellowstone, crowds can be crazy to say the least. Sadly, throngs of people are usually the last thing that you want to see when you’re trying to get some R&R outside (if that’s even possible with kids).
Ask most visitors about hiking in Grand Teton with kids and they’ll tell you to hike around Jenny Lake and go up to inspiration point. Guess what? Everyone’s heard the same advice and that trail is insanely crowded (last time we were there, cars were parked on the road 1/2 mile away just to go – it’s crazy crowded). Beautiful, yes, but if you want to get away from the masses of humanity, this is not the trail for you.
Here are a few of our favorite hikes:
Start off your hike by parking at the Laurance Rockefeller preserve. From there, there are several trails that vary in length from 1.2 miles to 2 miles one way. Although you will be climbing in elevation, the grade is pretty mild (nothing that our pack of 3 year-olds had a problem with) and something that most people can do. Depending on what route you choose, you will be hiking along streams, boulders, meadows, and wildflowers. Check out the map at the preserve and chose a length that best suits your group and the time that you have allotted.
When you get up to the top, enjoy the amazing mountain views as they are reflected across the lake. To keep things extra fun, we always take swimming suits and take a while to cool off and swim in the
freezing crisp water. The water is amazingly clear and kids will love being able to see all the rocks on the bottom near the shore.
Want to make your hike to Phelps extra awesome? This year we went with some friends who had rented some packrafts from Packraft Rentals Anywhere (located in Jackson, WY). Since they’re super portable, we brought them up to the lake with us and paddled around for a while. The kids thought it was fantastic and we loved being able to get out into the middle and explore, and especially loved being the only boats on the lake.
This place holds a million memories for me. I absolutely love it here. While this lake and the surrounding trails are more used than Phelps Lake, you’ll find nowhere near the crowds of nearby Jenny Lake.
The trails around here are easy, flat, and for the most part shady. Yes, it’s the perfect hike for really little ones (or older ones – we brought Andrew’s 83 year-old grandpa here last month). Most of the trail is right alongside String or Leigh Lake giving some fantastic views and providing ample opportunities to throw rocks!
Our families favorite are the bridges that cross the river that connect String and Leigh Lakes. Bend over close and you’re likely to see large fish swimming between the lakes, just a few feet below you.
String Lake is very shallow, so it’s a great place to go for a swim. At it’s deeper points, it’s about 9 feet, but kids can often walk about 1/3 of the way out while still touching. The shallow water makes this a somewhat warmer lake than others in the area, but it’s still quite frigid. This lake is ideal for smaller boats and we often take canoes or inflatable kayaks to paddle around the lake.
If you’re feeling really tough and want a little more adventure, hike up to Leigh Lake and then swim out to the island and explore for a while. (Note: this is a harder and longer swim so it’s best for stronger adult swimmers or for paddling out to in a boat).
Um, just writing about these makes me want to go back again. I love it up there … have I mentioned that yet? HA!