I haven’t been to every national park in the United States, but I have been to a fair few. (Including the Cascades, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone). And I must say, I think that Grand Teton National Park are one of my all-time favorites. When I first caught sight of the rocky peaks, rising up over the valley floor, I couldn’t believe that I was in the US, and not in New Zealand somewhere. The mountains didn’t even look real, but more like something from a fantasy book.
This place maintains its wildness, while also being a huge tourist draw. It’s crowded, but it’s magical. Besides a landscape that will make your jaw drop, Teton is full of wildlife. Taken together, great hikes, and beautiful views all make even the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park an adventure.
Come with me now to explore some perfect, beginner’s lake hikes for your first time in Grand Teton National Park.
- 1 Easy Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
- 2 Safety Tips for the Tetons
- 3 Tips for Planning Your First Trip to Grand Teton National Park
Easy Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Hermitage Point Trailhead
Hermitage Point Trail leaves from Colter Bay Village, which is right off of the 287/89 and has food, gift shops and information. If you try to make it all the way to the end of the trail and back, it isn’t really a beginners trail (imho). It’s 9 miles long, round trip. But what makes it nice for beginners is that there are so many loops in this area that you can take to make it a shorter trip, or you can turn around at any time. The trail is fairly flat, however, so it’s a great option for a flexible option among the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
I wouldn’t say that this is the number one trail in all of the Tetons, but there are a few benefits to this track. (1) There aren’t as many people hiking in this area as the really popular spots. There is also a really big parking place in this area. (2) This is a great, family friendly area with lots of choices for different walks through the forest. And there are some great views along the way. So, it is a great introduction.
The primary challenge to this hike (besides the potential length) is navigation. There are many trails in this area, and when I visited there were also some trails that had been closed. And as strange as I find it in a National Park, I found myself inadvertently following spider trails without realizing it. I’d suggest downloading an AllTrails map for hiking in this area, and taking pictures of the trailhead map as well. It might also be advisable to check in with the rangers before leaving, so that you know what routes are open when you visit.
Two Ocean Lake Loop
Two Ocean Lake Loop is a 6.4 mile trek around a relatively removed lake in Grand Teton National Park. I consider it to be a beginners hike in so far as Teton trails go because it is relatively flat. It is also fairly easy to navigate because you will walk along the lake side; stay close to the lake and you will be on the right path. There is only one junction. So if you take your time and come prepared, it isn’t too strenuous, but it is a beautiful and removed spot among the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
Two Ocean Lake is a bit of a drive to get to, however, as you will need to leave the main park roads and take a dirt track for a time. When I went, I was able to find the trailhead using Google, and it was passible by car. However, I think it would be good to be cautious if you are in a small vehicle without AWD or 4WD. Just make sure that the road isn’t too muddy or rutted when you go.
The trailhead is equipped with a bathroom, despite being so out of the way. And while it is secluded compared to other spots, it did get busy by the time I was walking out. So, if you have your heart set on this trail, be sure to go out earlier.
This is a very simple route! You will just follow the trail either from the left or right when leaving the trailhead, and travel all the way around the lake. You will end where you began. I did have a little trouble finding the trail when going counterclockwise out of the parking lot. But AllTrails was reliable enough that it got me to the right starting point.
After that, the trail was a little overgrown, but otherwise easy to follow. I had no problem navigating it along the lake. And while Emma Matilda Lake (next door) has lots of trail junctions, Two Ocean Lake only has one, at the far end. So, it’s kind of a nice halfway point.
The highlights of this trail for me were the views of the lake, and the distinctly different environments on either side of the water body. On the west side, you will be traveling through grasses, shrublands and meadows. And on the east side, you will be walking through the shade of the forest. It’s a really pristine location among the easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
Couple of Tips For Two Ocean Trail
Waterproof pants or gators… if you have them, I highly suggest wearing them, especially if you go out in the morning. I had PERFECT weather when I went out and did this trail, but I got soaked from the dew alone. The trail is a little overgrown, and while easy to navigate, you get slapped by leaves and grass the entire 6 miles. With that in mind, I also wouldn’t suggest doing this trail in shorts. I’ve gotten into really painful situations on long hikes where my legs were just being rubbed raw by plants as I walked past on overgrown trails.
Also, definitely do not forget bear spray on this trail. This was my first hike in the Tetons/Yellowstone area, and I didn’t even know enough to have bear spray with me. But then as I started my hike, I saw signs warning about Grizzlies. Not wanting to surprise them, I had to be on guard for my entire hike and I was so worried I would run into some. With all the meadows and lush forest area, this is a great place to accidentally run into a bear. So, please be sure to take bear spray even on easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
Safety Tips for the Tetons
As I always say, for every hiking guide, your safety while on the trail is your responsibility. No guide (including this one) is a guarantee of your safety.
Of course, there are general safety tips – see above. Bring proper clothes, water and food, safety gear, and check the weather and trail conditions. Make sure someone at home knows where you are going and when you will get home.
Grand Teton National Park has some extra considerations, in particular, wildlife. There are so many different, potentially dangerous (but amazing animals) in this part of the world. That includes moose, bison, elk, wolves, bears, deer, and more. General rule of thumb is to stay away from any animals. Give them space, and don’t get yourself into a dangerous situation trying to take photos. Definitely do not feed any animals.
Bears are of particular concern out here, because the Tetons are home to Grizzly bears. Prepare for any hike in this area by purchasing bear spray and being prepared to use it. Be sure to read up on your bear spray when you buy it and keep it within easy reach. Even easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park warrant some additional safety measures.
Myths About Bears and Women
Not too long ago, after I got home from Teton and Yellowstone, I watched a Youtube video about grizzly attacks in these parks. And I heard something that got me interested: “Women on their period should not hike in the backcountry, because bears are attracted to the odor of menstrual blood.”
I was bothered by this, particular because the Youtuber mentioned this in connection with one of the most horrific bear attacks in Yellowstone, in which a woman was killed while sleeping in her tent.
Turns out that not only is there not evidence to show that this myth of women being in danger when they are on their period in the backcountry, but the woman in the story that the Youtuber was talking about wasn’t even menstruating.
“Herrero (1985) analyzed the circumstances of hundreds of grizzly bear attacks on humans, including the attacks on the two women in GNP, and concluded that there was no evidence linking menstruation to any of the attacks.”
“Rogers et al. (1991) recorded the responses of 26 free-ranging black bears (Ursus americanus) to used tampons from 26 women and the responses of 20 free ranging black bears to four menstruating women at different days of their flow. Menstrual odors were essentially ignored by black bears of all sex and age classes. In an extensive review of black bear attacks across North America, no instances of black bears attacking or being attracted to menstruating women was found (Cramond 1981, Herrero 1985, Rogers et al. 1991).
“From 1979 through 2018, 50 people were injured by bears (41 by grizzly bear, 6 by black bear, and 3 by bears where the species was not identified) within YNP, an average of only 1.3 bear-inflicted human injuries per year. Of these 50 injuries, 39 (78%) were men, and only 11 (22%) were women.”
If you want to know more: https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/grizzlybear-menstrual-odor.htm
If you are a lady, don’t worry about these old-school myths. Take normal precautions.
If you are a person who has spread these kinds of myths… please stop. Do your research before you scare people.
Tips for Planning Your First Trip to Grand Teton National Park
Whether you are looking for easy hikes in Grand Teton National Park, backpacking, or just coming for some photography with the family, here are some general planning tips that I would have found helpful:
- Plan ahead. It is NOT affordable to stay in Jackson Hole unless you plan with plenty of lead time. This includes looking for affordable hotels and camping spots. Get your reservations as soon as you can.
- Plan for the wildlife. There are all kinds of animals in Grand Teton National Park, some of which you really won’t find elsewhere in the United States. This includes grizzly bears, elk, moose, wolves, and more. All that being said, it is important that you keep yourself safe and keep the animals safe as well. Keep your distance and avoid stopping in the middle of the road to view them.
- Have plan Bs. When you are planning your first trip to Teton National Park, you will find things that you really, really want to see. But sometimes, you may get somewhere where it is too busy to park or conditions may close areas. If you know what other spots you’d like to see, these things are easier to navigate.
Other Thoughts for Travel to Wyoming
Are you looking for other thoughts on visiting Wyoming? This is a beautiful state with so much variety. For instance, if you are in southern Wyoming, consider stopped by some of the beautiful small towns down there, like Laramie and Sarataga.