Hiking to Phelps Lake is a popular short hike in the Grand Teton National Park. The 4-mile round-trip trail provides fantastic views of jagged mountains, the scenic Phelps Lake and Jackson Hole valley. This is a beautiful and enjoyable hike for enthusiasts up for the challenge of climbing a few hills and encountering wildlife. You can reward yourself by jumping into the chilly lake for a swim!

Bear: Phelps Lake: Grand Teton National ParkWildlife and Bears!

The Phelps Lake area is also known for wildlife sightings. On my first attempt hiking to Phelps Lake from Teton Village along the Valley Trail, this teenage bear pounced into the trail within inches of me! Completely shocked, I walked carefully backwards while he trotted after me for several minutes. Much to his disappointment (and my relief), he eventually found me to be a rather dull playmate.

Phelps Lake: Grand Teton National Park

I never made it to Phelps Lake that day and let the bear enjoy the trail by himself! I tried the hike the following week from the more popular Death Canyon Trailhead and successfully hiked to the lake and back. The Death Canyon Trailhead in the Grand Teton National Park is where I highly recommend beginning your hike.

Phelps Lake: Grand Teton National ParkPhelps Lake Hike: Trail Details

Pick up a Grand Teton National Park map at the park entrance station. Park and begin your hike at the Death Canyon Trailhead off of Moose-Wilson Road. This trail is an out and back hike on a well-maintained dirt trail. It is 1.0 mile to the Phelps Lake Overlook. This section of the hike is moderately easy leading you to an overlook of Phelps Lake and the Jackson Hole valley. Descend 1.0 more mile to Phelps Lake. This section of the hike is more strenuous on your return trip as you ascend in elevation.

If you choose, meander the trails taking you along side the lake. I recommending heading on the trail to the right of the lake. It takes you up and away from the lake before returning back to the shore. There is a magical spot named Huckleberry Point to discover!

Phelps Lake: Grand Teton National Park

Phelps Lake Tips

  • Plan to be alert and knowledgeable about wildlife encounters. Respect the wildlife and their natural habitat.
  • I recommend entering the park prepared and with bear spray.
  • The trail and park is open in mid-June to early September.
  • Camping is available on the lake shore after obtaining a park permit.
  • Click Here for hiking and gear tips.
  • Happy hiking and share your questions or comments!

    Here’s more adventures in Grand Teton National Park.

    3 comments… add one
    Franklin smith

    I saw a bear too, at Phelps Lake. It was so scary, I saw the bear with her cubs trotting through the trails. We backed away slowly and she just went on her way with her cute little cubs. ALWAYS try to be bear aware. It is very, very, very scary to see a bear.

    Hi Franklin,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, it is very important to be bear aware and to always be prepared. It’s also a good idea to ask a park ranger or check the local news or gossip in advance to find out if bears have been seen in a particular area.

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