The Grand Tetons are some of the most picturesque mountains in the world, and there are loads of gorgeous hiking trails in the National Park. The trail from String Lake to Leigh Lake is one of the most accessible…but you don’t have to sacrifice stunning views just because it’s easy to get to!
Why String Lake & Leigh Lake Trails are So Great
There are many lakes in Grand Teton National Park. The most famous are Jackson Lake (actually a reservoir formed by the dam on the Snake River) and Jenny Lake, at the very foot of Grand Teton.
String and Leigh Lakes are part of a three-lake chain that starts with Jenny Lake at the south. There’s a trail system of many miles around and among these lakes and into the canyons to the west.
One can spend days in these mountains backpacking and backcountry camping.
But you don’t have to travel far to see these crystal-clear mountain lakes up-close-and-personal. In fact, the trail alongside String Lake starts right from the parking lot. Within a few feet before you see stunning views of the lake, and the mountains that rise up steeply behind it.
This section is really more like a stroll on a dirt path in the woods than a hike! There are a few rolling hills but not any real elevation gain. If you want strenuous mountain hiking there are plenty of opportunities for that elsewhere, but you won’t get it here.
What You’ll See Along the Trail
We just did a “sample” hike starting at the the parking lot between Jenny Lake and String Lake. We headed north on the east side of String Lake and hiked just a mile or so along Leigh Lake.
Enough to get a taste of this oh-so-beautiful area of the Park, but enough time for other activities, too.
Like all alpine lakes, these two are cold and wonderfully clear.
A ranger told us someone had seen a black bear swimming across String Lake just the day before. We weren’t so lucky, but then again, we were glad not to run into a grizzly!
(The Tetons are bear territory so if you go much further in, be sure to have bear spray with you.)
Because of its location right next to the shoreline, this trail gives you constant views of both the lakes and the mountains behind them.
We saw quite a few paddlers the day of our hike—in kayaks, canoes and on stand-up boards. There’s a 100-yard portage from String into Leigh that looked like a super highway to us—not at all like the Boundary Waters portages we’re used to!
String Lake is small, but Leigh Lake has acres upon acres to paddle on if you’re so inclined. Bring your own boats, though. The only rental in the area is on Jenny Lake, and those canoes have to stay on that lake.
The Only Downside
The only downside of this trail is: so many people! Grand Teton and Yellowstone are absolutely packed in the summer. The earlier you get out on the trails, the better—not just because the trails won’t be crowded, but you’ll find a parking spot!
The day we hiked this, we arrived around 9:00am. By the time we were leaving the area a couple hours later the parking lot was packed and cars were lined up along the road. Jenny Lake is even more crowded.
If you were to plan your trip in the spring, up until early-mid June, or September into early fall there would be a few thousand less people.
The Final Word
In my opinion, this is the prettiest section of Grand Teton National Park. Between the trails, the lakes and the mountains you just can’t go wrong.
(That’s probably why the Jenny Lake Campground fills up very quickly each day in the busy summer season!)
It’s so worth spending time on this trail, by these lakes. There are longer loop trails this one connects to if you’d like more of a challenge. But don’t miss this scenic hike!
More about Grand Teton National Park:
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Colter Bay Campground: Grand Teton National Park
- Paddling in Grand Teton National Park (this is a post I wrote for Aqua-Bound, one of my clients)
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.