Kid-Friendly Hikes in Grand Teton National Park!

Kid-friendly trails in Grand Teton National Park.  Beginning at upper left: Lakeshore Trail, Hidden Falls, Jenny Lake Trail, String Lake, and a wildflower on the western side of the Teton Range
Kid-friendly trails in Grand Teton National Park. Beginning at upper left: Lakeshore Trail, Hidden Falls, Jenny Lake Trail, String Lake, and a wildflower on the western side of the Teton Range

One of the great things about taking children to Grand Teton National Park is that there’s so much kid-friendly hiking available!  Some of it is short and sweet for little legs and others are longer for those of us who don’t mind the extra milage.  There’s also plenty of streams to play in, lakes, stories, a (shhh!) swimming area, and plenty of views to enjoy.

Me (red shirt) on the Cascade Canyon Trail on my first visit to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Me (red shirt) on the Cascade Canyon Trail on my first visit to Grand Teton National Park

I was 5 the first time we went to Grand Teton National Park.  My biggest disappointment was that the junior ranger program wasn’t very good (it’s since been updated and is much more kid-friendly.)  The most fun was seeing the chapel and the boat ride across Jenny Lake.  And we saw a moose!

A moose in Cascade Canyon. PC Ian D’Andrea, CC BY-SA 2.0

We weren’t hot on hiking back then, but since then we’ve hiked many, many miles both with children and teens in the Tetons and vicinity.  Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly hikes.

The Best Hikes for Children in Grand Teton National Park

Views of Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Views of Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail

Lakeshore Trail

2.6 mile loop

If I’d found the Lakeshore Trail back when I was 5 on my first visit to the park, it would have been an immediate favorite.  “There are so many places to stop and play,” says one of my group members.  “And there are so many places that the parents can enjoy the view at the same time!”

Hidden Falls, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

2.2 miles out & back with the shuttle across Jenny Lake (add about 2.4 miles to begin at the String Lake Trailhead or the South Jenny Lake Boat Launch Parking Area)

“The boat ride across the lake was great,” another group member told me – he was 3 years old when he took the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake, but it’s a trip he’s never forgotten.  “You get to see a waterfall and hike up to the viewpoint.”  On my first visit, I’m not sure if I was more impressed with the waterfall or climbing on the rocks at Inspiration Point.

Peek-a-boo views below Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Peek-a-boo views below Cascade Canyon

Cascade Canyon

2.3 to 12.4 miles out & back (cut off 2.4 miles using the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake instead of beginning at the String Lake Trailhead or the South Jenny Lake Boat Launch Parking Area)

I highly recommend the Cascade Canyon Trail to families.  Besides the fun boat ride and the ability to go as far or as not-far up the canyon as you wish (not to mention that you get to see Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point on the way), you’re also very likely to see moose in the swamps.  There are also great views.  The only drawback is that the trail can be a bit rough.

The Teton Range from below Grand View Point, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Teton Range from below Grand View Point

Grand View Point

1.6 miles out & back

On our first visit to Grand View Point, the youngest was 3.  She hiked all the way up there, leaving her little footprints for some very eager hikers behind us to follow (they were the sweetest couple!)  “I remember it being really fun,” says one of my group members, who first hiked the trail when she was 9.  The short length and great view shortly before the forested viewpoint (with a big rock to climb on!) makes this one great for younger children.

Views across Jenny Lake. PC Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0

Jenny Lake Loop

7.5 mile loop

For a fairly flat trail with great views, Jenny Lake is a favorite.  The northwestern section of the trail has the best views because a fire some years ago took out the trees.  The trail also gets close enough to the lake in places to play for a few minutes before continuing the hike.

Late morning views over Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Late morning views over Leigh Lake

Leigh Lake

4.8 to 8.0 miles out & back

Leigh Lake may be one of the most kid-friendly hikes in this post (besides the Lakeshore Trail).  For one thing, you can tailor the length of the hike based on your energy levels.  For another, there are several places to access the water, mostly around and after mile 2.  Besides all that, the trail is virtually flat in terms of elevation gain.

Morning reflections in String Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Morning reflections in String Lake

String Lake

3.8 mile loop

The fantastic thing about the String Lake Trail is the opportunity to swim in the (very cold) String Lake afterward.  I don’t gather it’s anything close to official, but on a hot summer day, you’ll see plenty of kids and parents in the water.  It also has great views of the Tetons over the lake and the trail is reasonably flat.

Views from Lunch Tree Hill. PC Nancy Harris, All Rights Reserved

Lunch Tree Hill

0.4 miles out & back

While most people hike up Lunch Tree Hill to access the trails beyond, it’s a great, simple hike for families.  Take a picnic and enjoy the views.

Views over Taggart Lake. PC Dave Bezaire, CC BY-SA 2.0

Taggart Lake

Up to 5.5 mile lollipop loop with spur

The loop to Bradley and Taggart Lakes is a very popular way to see the Tetons – because the views are fantastic!  The lakes also offer opportunities to play in the water.

Views over Swan Lake. PC Allan Harris, CC BY-ND 2.0

Swan Lake/Heron Pond

3.2 mile loop

The Heron Pond & Swan Lake Loop is a favorite with families looking for a low-elevation-gain trek.  If you want even more views without a lot of hills to climb, you can continue on to Hermitage Point (10.0 mile loop).

Schwabacher Landing

1.3 miles out & back

For wildlife, it’s hard to beat the Schwabacher Landing Trail. Go in the early morning for the best chance at seeing deer, coyotes, moose, bald eagles, and fantastic reflections of the Tetons.

And just outside of Grand Teton National Park…

Afternoon views from Mt. Leidy, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Afternoon views from Mt. Leidy

Mt. Leidy

2.0 miles out & back

Mt. Leidy is off-the-grid – so much so that I recommend high clearance to get to the trailhead.  But it’s a short and sweet hike with fantastic views of the Tetons, especially in the morning.  The peak was named for Joseph Leidy, the first person to solve a murder case with the use of a microscope.

The cave and waterfall in Upper Darby Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The cave and waterfall in Upper Darby Canyon

Upper Darby Canyon

About 8 miles out & back

Upper Darby Canyon is best for older children, or at least those who can hike quite well.  The trail is steep!  The fossils (you must leave them where they are) are a great draw if you go beyond the waterfall and up toward the pass (the trail only goes as far as the waterfall, so be ready for an adventure).

Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Mt. Moran from the Lakeshore Trail

Other Helpful Information

Grand Teton National Park has a $35/week fee to enter the park.  National Park & Federal Lands Passes are also accepted.

The Junior Ranger program is fun and informative!  Check out the booklet here.  My favorite part?  There are no age limits, so anyone who wants to become a “junior ranger” is welcome to do so!

Many trailheads fill quickly in the summer months, especially around String and Jenny Lakes.  Arrive early if you can.

Mormon Row and the Chapel of the Sacred Heart are also great, quick stops.

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For so many more hikes in Grand Teton National Park and surrounding areas, check out this book!  It has some of my favorite, most scenic hikes I’ve done in Wyoming.