I am a sucker for any trail that leads you to a cold alpine lake. Grand Teton National Park did not disappoint in this respect. In fact, it offers plenty of short, easy family-friendly hikes that take you to blue clear waters surrounded by the backdrop of beautiful mountain vistas. Score!
String Lake is the best place to swim in Grand Teton National Park. It is shallow, so although it is still very cold, it’s not quite as freezing as some of the other lakes in the park. The sandy bottom of String Lake is also easy on the feet making it a very kid-friendly lake to enjoy. My girls brought their snorkel masks and had a blast.
You’ll find a lot of people at String Lake, because visitors can park at the nearby picnic area and walk a short distance to its shore. We spent the day here, bringing our inflatable tubes and enjoying a picnic and swim along with dozens of folks on tubes, canoes, SUPs, etc. It’s still beautiful.
Leave the Crowds
Alternatively, you can park at the picnic area and proceed to the north end of the parking lot where you’ll find the Leigh Lake trailhead. This flat, easy trail leads you along the eastern shore of String Lake on the way to Leigh Lake. Simply walk this beautiful trail, and you’ll leave most of the crowds behind.
At the 1/2 mile mark, you’ll find a small sandy beach on the northern end of String Lake and a bench to enjoy the view. With this short walk, you could even pack your towels and inflatable tubes to enjoy at this picturesque spot.
Spend some time here and then continue on the trail another 1/2 mile or so to where the trail splits right to go to the Leigh Lake canoe portage area or left to continue toward the bridge crossing the Leigh Lake outlet.
Leigh Lake Canoe Portage
Go right following the signs toward the portage area, and you’ll have views of Leigh Lake, a beautiful wildflower meadow, and a fun rock to climb. This was a quiet and beautiful area that not many seem to visit.
Leigh Lake Outlet Bridge
From the portage area, return to the trail junction and this time, take the trail leading to the bridge. Cross the bridge and have fun climbing the large boulders, skipping rocks, and listening to the sound of the roaring water. We turned around after crossing the bridge and returned to the picnic area making our hike just over 2 miles roundtrip.
Want A Longer Hike?
If you want a longer hike, you can extend either of these trails. From the Leigh Lake trailhead at the parking lot, you can hike 3.7 miles past the canoe portage area to the north end of Leigh Lake or you can cross the Leigh Lake Outlet bridge to loop around String Lake for a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike. I’d like to return to hike the Leigh Lake trail with its impressive views of Mount Moran and more sandy beaches.
Arrive early (before 9am) or arrive later in the afternoon (after 5pm). It’s a popular spot so finding parking can be a challenge.
Bring bear spray. We saw a bear walking off trail in the opposite direction of us during our hike. Some folks stopped to observe but we zoomed on!
Bring mosquito spray. Once you stop walking, the mosquitoes are happy to greet you.
Wear good shoes for walking on this somewhat rocky terrain.
Pack an inflatable tube. We wore swimsuits under our clothes and packed small inflatable tubes in our backpack to inflate later at a less-crowded beach area along the trail.
From the Moose Entrance Station of Grand Teton National Park, drive north for 10 miles to the North Jenny Lake Junction. Turn left here and take a right at the stop sign to follow the road to the String Lake area. Continue to the end of the road to park at the picnic area.
Plan Your Visit
A Grand Teton National Park Itinerary Is Now Available!
Grand Teton National Park is simply awesome with its jagged mountain peaks, alpine lakes, wildlife, sagebrush meadows, and forests filled with aspens and fir trees.
Too busy to read through a million blogs and guidebooks to maximize your time in Grand Teton National Park? Simplify your life with this 5-day itinerary. Everything you need to know: where to sleep, eat, and play! All organized into day-by-day plans.
See our blog post: Don’t Miss Phelps Lake in Grand Teton National Park or more photos on our Facebook Page.