Hiking the Full Length of Leigh Lake

Reflections of Mt. Moran in String Lake before getting to Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Reflections of Mt. Moran in String Lake before getting to Leigh Lake

The Leigh Lake Trail in Grand Teton National Park is famous and with good reason.  If you can get far enough (but not too far) along the trail, the views of the mountains reflected in the lake are just beautiful.  It’s also a flat trail, so the hike is easy compared to some of the other trails in the park.  My recommendation is to start in the very early morning – not only are the views best in the morning, but you’ll also miss out on the crowds, and you’ll be treated to glass-like reflections in both String and Leigh Lakes.

 

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 4.8 to 8.0 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Change: 1,077ft. Pets: No Fees: $35/vehicle

 



 

Noon-hour reflections in Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Noon-hour reflections in Leigh Lake

The Leigh Lake Trail begins from the parking area near String Lake.  The parking area fills up in the summer (String Lake is a favorite for families who spend the day swimming or picnicking along the lake’s shoreline) so you may want to arrive early.  We arrived before breakfast, which is to say it was probably around 6am local time.

Reflections in String Lake right next to the parking area, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Reflections in String Lake right next to the parking area

Follow the signs for Leigh Lake and follow the wide, well-used path as it traverses the shoreline of String Lake.  In the early morning, before the swimmers, paddle boarders, and kayakers arrive, the lake is filled with reflections of Teewinot and Mt. St. John.

Reflections of Teewinot Mountain at the place where portagers between String Lake and Leigh Lake pull out their crafts, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Reflections of Teewinot Mountain at the place where portagers between the two lakes pull out their crafts

Continue up to the trail junction at 0.5 miles and continue straight another 0.4 miles to the junction at the head of String Lake.  If you go straight (on the String Lake Trail) for a short distance, you can see the bridge over the Leigh Lake outlet.  But to visit Leigh Lake, turn right, following the signs.

The Leigh Lake Outlet from the String Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Leigh Lake Outlet

The trail traverses the shore of Leigh Lake with not much in the way of views until a swampy beach at mile 1.6.  If you’re looking for the shortest hike possible, you could turn around here.  However, I recommend that you continue to the pebble beach (mile 1.9), a sandy beach (mile 2.3), or to the sandy beach near the campsites (mile 2.4).  This last area has by far the best views of Leigh Lake and nearby mountains (specifically, Mount St. John, Mount Woodring, and Mount Moran) on the trail.  So it’s a great turn around spot for a 4.8 mile RT trek.

Views of Mount Woodring (left) and Mount Moran from the sandy beach by the campsites, Leigh Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Views of Mount Woodring (left) and Mount Moran from the sandy beach by the campsites

But I’d read that the trail goes further, so we kept hiking.  There was another pebbly beach at mile 3.25, then the trail rose (slightly) to go through meadows and forest before arriving at the Bear Paw Lake Junction at mile 3.8.  This is a four-way junction; straight goes toward Bearpaw Lake, right is toward a couple of campsites on the east side of Bearpaw Lake, and left goes toward the head of Leigh Lake.

Rockchuck Peak (left) and Mount Woodring from the meadows at the north end of Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Rockchuck Peak (left) and Mount Woodring from the meadows at the north end of Leigh Lake

We turned left to go toward Leigh Lake.  (Actually, the views toward Mt. Moran (straight ahead at the trail junction) and Eagles Rest Peak (to the right, toward Bear Paw Lake) are pretty good – to the left of Mt. Moran, you can also see Mount Woodring and Rockchuck Peak.)  There is an old patrol cabin in the area, but it looked like people were camping there and might still have been asleep.  At any rate, it was obvious they wanted no visitors, and we kept our distance.

Views south across Leigh Lake from its northern end, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Views south across Leigh Lake from its northern end

The views from the shoreline at the north end of Leigh Lake are not that “Teton”-ish; you could be in Minnesota or Maine or another of those states with big lakes surrounded by forests.  There are a few blue mountains in the distance to the south and a glimpse toward the Tetons to the west, but other than that, it’s just you and the lake and the shoreline.

Mount Moran from the meadows north of Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mount Moran from the meadows

Still, it’s very peaceful.  Not too many people come this far, so you’ll probably have the area to yourself.

Eagles Rest Peak from the sandy beach along Leigh Lake Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Eagles Rest Peak from the sandy beach near the campsites

We went back to the campground area, took a swim (no one around means it’s a lot easier to find somewhere to change into your bathing suit!), and then came back just about the time everyone who was on the Leigh Lake Trail that day to finally be hiking the trail.  So we came back to a bit of a madhouse around String Lake.

Views toward Teewinot Peak, Mount St. John, and Mount Rockchuck over Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Views toward Teewinot Peak, Mount St. John, and Mount Rockchuck

I would have liked to have taken the String Lake Loop back to the van, but we were on a little bit of a time crunch due to the fact that we needed to make tracks toward home.  Still, the very fact that we finally did the entirety of the Leigh Lake Trail after so many years was pretty neat.

Close up of Teewinot Mountain (left) and the point of Grand Teton over String Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Close up of Teewinot Mountain (left) and the point of Grand Teton

Round Trip Trail Length: 4.8 to 8.0 miles out & back

Elevation Gain: 1,077ft. (6,867ft. to 6,924ft.)

Facilities: Restrooms and a picnic area with water at the trailhead

Fees: $35/vehicle/seven days.  National Park & Federal Lands Passes and Grand Teton Annual Passes also accepted.

Trail Notes: The trail is quite flat (the elevation gain comes from many small ups and downs), but it’s not stroller-friendly.  Be wary of roots, especially along String Lake.  The area is frequented by families and people swimming.  Campfires, vehicles, bicycles, and pets are not allowed on the trail; you must have a fishing license to go fishing in the lakes.  The views are definitely best in the morning when the sun is shining on, rather than behind, the Tetons.

Reflections of (l-r) Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton, and Mt. St. John in String Lake along the Leigh Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Reflections of (l-r) Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton, and Mt. St. John in String Lake

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Mt. Moran from the southern end of Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mt. Moran from the southern end of Leigh Lake

GPS Coordinates for Leigh Lake

Trailhead: 43.7886167°, -110.7305667° (N43° 47.317′ W110° 43.834′ / 43°47’19.0200″, -110°43’50.0400″) (6,709ft.) (0.0)

Trail Junction: 43.7924333°, -110.7256833° (N43° 47.546′ W110° 43.541′ / 43°47’32.7600″, -110°43’32.4600″) (6,879ft.) (0.51)

Trail Junction: 43.7968000°, -110.7282667° (N43° 47.808′ W110° 43.696′ / 43°47’48.4800″, -110°43’41.7600″) (6,883ft.) (0.89) (return 7.03)

Swampy beach: 43.8030500°, -110.7209167° (N43° 48.183′ W110° 43.255′ / 43°48’10.9800″, -110°43’15.3000″) (6,894ft.) (1.60)

Mt. Moran and Eagles Rest Peak from one of the swampy beaches along Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mt. Moran and Eagles Rest Peak from one of the swampy beaches

Pebble beach: 43.8071000°, -110.7199500° (N43° 48.426′ W110° 43.197′ / 43°48’25.5600″, -110°43’11.8200″) (6,896ft.) (1.93)

Sandy beach: 43.8118667°, -110.7188167° (N43° 48.712′ W110° 43.129′ / 43°48’42.7200″, -110°43’07.7400″) (6,896ft.) (2.32)

Sandy beach & campsites: 43.8129667°, -110.7181333° (N43° 48.778′ W110° 43.088′ / 43°48’46.6800″, -110°43’05.2800″) (6,898ft.) (2.44) (return 5.52)

Pebble beach: 43.8224000°, -110.7207333° (N43° 49.344′ W110° 43.244′ / 43°49’20.6400″, -110°43’14.6400″) (6,895ft.) (3.24)

Clouds settling over Mount St. John, Ruckchuck Peak, and Mount Woodring across Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Clouds settling over Mount St. John, Ruckchuck Peak, and Mount Woodring

Bearpaw Lake Trail Junction: 43.8279333°, -110.7273333° (N43° 49.676′ W110° 43.640′ / 43°49’40.5600″, -110°43’38.4000″) (6,902ft.) (3.85)

Patrol Cabin: 43.8270667°, -110.7263500° (N43° 49.624′ W110° 43.581′ / 43°49’37.4400″, -110°43’34.8600″) (6,892ft.) (3.96)

North end of lake: 43.8266167°, -110.7271000° (N43° 49.597′ W110° 43.626′ / 43°49’35.8200″, -110°43’37.5600″) (6,889ft.) (4.03)

End: 43.7886667°, -110.7306500° (N43° 47.320′ W110° 43.839′ / 43°47’19.2000″, -110°43’50.3400″) (6,909ft.) (8.04)

Teewinot Mountain and the point of Grand Teton over Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Teewinot Mountain and the point of Grand Teton

The gpx file for Leigh Lake can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 107.5 KB Downloaded 21 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Morning reflections of Mount Woodring and Mount Moran in Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Morning reflections of Mount Woodring and Mount Moran in Leigh Lake

Getting to Leigh Lake

From the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, continue north on the park road.  After 2.9 miles, turn left onto the Jenny Lake Road for 1.5 miles.  Turn right on to the String Lake Road – the road will be marked.  Drive to the end of the road (0.1 miles) and park in the parking area.

Looking south over Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Looking south over Leigh Lake

From Moran Junction, drive north on US-191/US-287.  After 4 miles, turn left onto the Teton Park Road (a sign will point toward Signal Mountain and Jenny Lake).  (This junction is 1 mile south of Jackson Lake Lodge).  Drive 10 miles and turn right onto the Jenny Lake Road; after 1.5 miles turn right onto the String Lake Road.  Drive to the end of the road (0.1 miles) and park in the parking area.

Visual trail map and elevation profile for the Leigh Lake Trail up to the northern end of Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Visual trail map and elevation profile for the Leigh Lake Trail up to the northern end of Leigh Lake

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