Emma Matilda Lake Loop (via Jackson Lake Lodge)
|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views, Lake Views, Wildlife|
|Trail Location:||Jackson Lake Lodge|
|Roundtrip Length:||10.7 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6864 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||750 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||140 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||7306 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||12.20 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.87814|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.57258|
This hike around Emma Matilda Lake begins from the Jackson Lake Lodge area, located one mile north of Jackson Lake Junction. After turning into the lodge area, drive another two-tenths of a mile and turn left towards the gas services and corrals. The trailhead is located near the corrals.
Shortly after leaving the parking area hikers will travel under the Teton Park Road overpass. Throughout this section, as well as the first leg of the loop, you'll also be sharing the path with horses from the concessionaire at Jackson Lake Lodge.
At just over one-tenth of a mile you'll arrive at the junction where the loop portion of the hike begins. Although you can proceed in either direction, we chose to do this hike in a counter-clockwise direction because the views seem to be a little better along the northern leg of the Emma Matilda Lake Trail while proceeding in a westbound direction. Hikers, therefore, should turn right at this junction.
Less than a half-mile from the trailhead you'll reach a small rise above Christian Pond. Upon reaching the pond the trail continues towards the south where it climbs to a higher perch above the water. The top of the hill provides the best view of the pond, including some nice views of the mountains towards the north. You may also see a few ducks, such as American wigeons or common mergansers, or maybe even a trumpeter swan, swimming in the shallow grassy waters.
From the top of the hill the trail continues heading southbound, and at roughly three-quarters of a mile you'll reach a split in the trail. The path to the right leads to the Oxbow Bend Overlook. To continue towards Emma Matilda Lake hikers should veer to the left at this junction.
Much of this portion of the loop passes through sagebrush meadows. The open terrain offers opportunities for spotting a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, pronghorn, coyotes and even bears.
At 1.25 miles hikers will reach the Emma Matilda Lake Trail junction. The "unmaintained" trail to the left serves as the eastern segment of the Christian Pond Loop. To continue towards Emma Matilda Lake hikers should proceed along the trail that veers to the right here. Just beyond this junction hikers will arrive at the official junction for the Emma Matilda Lake and Christian Pond Loop trails. A hard left will take you back to the Christian Pond Loop. To continue on towards Emma Matilda Lake hikers should bear to the right here.
From the junction the trail enters the forest and begins heading towards the south shore of Emma Matilda Lake. At just over 1.6 miles you'll reach another split in the trail. The right fork loops back to Jackson Lake Lodge. Hikers should proceed towards the left after crossing the small footbridge.
At 1.7 miles hikers will reach Lookout Rock, a rock outcropping that stands roughly 30 feet above the water and offers commanding views of the western portions of Emma Matilda Lake. Rising above the trees on the far end of the lake is Mt. Moran and the northern Tetons. From this perch we watched a kingfisher hunt for a meal along the shoreline just below us. We also saw a few Canadian geese and common loons as well. No doubt, Lookout Rock is an outstanding place for an extended break.
Just beyond Lookout Rock you'll pass another side trail that leads back to Jackson Lake Lodge.
At roughly 2.2 miles the trail begins traveling down a small hill. Soon you'll round a bend where you'll find a break in the canopy that offers an outstanding view of Grand Teton, Mt. Moran and the northern Tetons rising above Emma Matilda Lake. In case you're wondering, the lake was named for the wife of William O. Owen, organizer of the first ascent of Grand Teton in 1898.
From this vantage point the trail begins climbing away from the lake. The trail never really comes into contact with the lake again, and mostly stays within the confines of a dense forest. As you proceed further to the east you'll begin passing through a very long stretch of dead trees, the result of a lightning-ignited wildfire that burned roughly 100 acres in this area in 1998.
At 4.7 miles the trail crosses over a footbridge, and soon begins making a wide arc around the eastern end of the lake. Keep an eye out for moose as you proceed through this area.
At roughly 5 miles hikers will reach a trail junction in the middle of a grassy meadow that's surrounded by aspen trees. A turn to the right would lead you to an unmarked trailhead on Pacific Creek Road. To continue on towards the north side of Emma Matilda Lake hikers should turn left at this junction.
As the trail travels around the northeastern side of the lake it will pass through several grassy meadows. At first these meadows offer very little in the way of mountain views. However, once you arrive at roughly the 6.1-mile mark, you'll enjoy some really good views of the Tetons rising above the lake towards the west.
At 6.7 miles you'll pass the side trail that leads to the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead. Hikers also have the option of starting a similar loop around Emma Matilda Lake from this trailhead. To continue back to Jackson Lake Lodge hikers should turn left at this junction.
Just beyond the junction you'll begin passing through another large grassy meadow. Soon you'll reach a couple aspen groves with some absolutely stunning views of the Grand Tetons in the background. If you're a budding photographer, this is an outstanding spot to possibly go home with some great fall aspen shots against the mountains.
At roughly 7.3 miles hikers will begin climbing a relatively steep ridge. As you approach the top of the bluff you'll have some fantastic views of Emma Matilda Lake towards the southeast. Near the top the trail passes through another area that was burned by a lightning-ignited wildfire in 1994.
At roughly 9.3 miles hikers will reach a four-way intersection. The trail leading to the right climbs to Grand View Point. This perch, roughly 1.7 miles from this junction, offers stunning views of the entire Teton Range. The trail to the left serves as the eastern segment of the Christian Pond Loop. To continue on towards Jackson Lake Lodge hikers should proceed straight ahead here.
Just beyond the junction the trail begins descending, and soon begins passing through a series of grassy meadows. Look for elk, mule deer, coyotes and black bears along this stretch of the route.
Hikers should note that bears may be present anywhere along this route. Park officials emphasize that hikers should be alert, make noise, carry bear spray, and avoid hiking alone. In August of 1994 a jogger from Utah was attacked by a grizzly bear on the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. Although there have been six reported bear attacks in the park since 1994, none have been fatal.
At just over 9.7 miles you'll pass another side trail that leads to Grand View Point, and at 10.6 miles you'll reach the end of the loop portion of the hike. Simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead from this junction.