Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA (in my humble opinion). Majestic mountains jut up into the sky, pristine lakes are everywhere, and wildlife is easy to spot. While driving the park road gives you a good enough view, the best way to experience the park is to get out into it. My favorite way to get up close and personal in any national park is to go on a hike.
Grand Teton is a great place for hiking. It has some amazing trails, and something for all levels of experience. If you’re a beginner when it comes to hiking, or if you just want something short and quick, there are plenty of options. There isn’t always time for a full day hike, especially if you only have one day to explore the park.
That’s why I put together this list of 4 short hikes in Grand Teton National Park. “Short” for this list means 5 miles or less round-trip. I have personally completed every one of these hikes and I highly recommend them all.
4 of the Best Short Hikes in Grand Teton
String Lake Loop
Distance: 3.7 miles RT
String Lake Trailhead
This is one of my favorite hikes in Grand Teton National Park. I like loop trails simply because it doesn’t require passing over the same path twice. This trail takes you around the full perimeter of String Lake, allowing for views from all angles. The clear green waters of String Lake are unbelievable–driftwood and rocks on the lake floor are easy to see, as if there was no water at all! Overall, the trail is very easy. I completed this trail in pouring rain and it was still enjoyable.
Extend your hike: If you want a full-day (or possibly overnight) hike, you can connect to Paintbrush Canyon near the half-way point. From here you can complete the Paintbrush-Cascade loop, which is 19 miles RT.
Phelps Lake Overlook
Distance: 2 miles RT
Death Canyon Trailhead
The hike to Phelps Lake starts at the Death Canyon Trailhead, which requires driving down a very bumpy 1-mile road. The sign at the road suggests 4-wheel drive only. Once you get to the trailhead, it’s a consistent up-hill hike for 1 mile to the overlook. The trail is beautiful and well-maintained, and it includes quite a few stairs. The view from the top is stunning and makes the moderately-strenuous uphill walk totally worth it. Take the same route to get back, but this time it’s all downhill, so your legs will get a break.
Extend your hike: If you want a longer hike, the trail descends down to the lake from the overlook point. Keep in mind that you would return via a steep climb back up the same way you came. Hiking down to the lake and back to the Death Canyon Trailhead is 4.2 miles RT.
Leigh Lake (to Eastshore Beach)
Distance: 4.5 miles RT
Leigh Lake Trailhead
The hike to Leigh Lake begins at the String Lake Trailhead, and it’s a 1/2 mile to the Leigh Lake Trailhead from there. The first mile of the trail is completely flat, making for an incredibly easy walk along the shore of String Lake. Then come a few forks branching off to various trails. The next mile or so follows the eastern shore of Leigh Lake. I completed the 4.5 miles in a little over an hour, so it’s a very quick and easy trail.
Extend your hike: Once you get to the lake, you can walk as far as you want. You can also continue on the trail to Trapper Lake and Bearpaw Lake. The hike to Trapper Lake is 9.2 miles RT.
Jenny Lake Trailhead
The hike to Hidden Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park. It’s on the west side of Jenny Lake, so it requires some work to get there (although not too much work if you don’t want to). To get to Hidden Falls, you have many options. One is to take the Jenny Lake shuttle from the east boat dock over to the west side of the lake. That only requires a 1-mile RT hike up to the falls & back (the shortest option).
I decided to skip the shuttle on the way out and opted to walk around the south end of Jenny Lake instead. This added about 2 miles to the hike. The walk around the lake is fairly easy, with only a couple of quick stairways to climb. It’s less crowded than the shuttle but is still heavily used.
Once you reach the junction to head up to the waterfall, it’s a 1/2 mile uphill, climbing stairs and rocky pathways. The waterfall is beautiful and there is a great area around it to sit, rest, and picnic before walking back down. I took the shuttle boat on the way back, so my total mileage for the hike was about 3 miles.
There are lots of other amazing trails in Grand Teton National Park, both short and long. So if you’re ever there, be sure to leave some time for a hike! It really is the best way to explore the park.
Be aware that Grand Teton is in Bear Country, so if you’re going to hike here, prepare yourself. Read my post about Hiking in Bear Country to learn how to stay safe.
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