|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views, Lake Views|
|Trail Location:||Leigh Lake Trailhead|
|Roundtrip Length:||3.7 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6875 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||50 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||27 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||6892 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||3.80 (easy)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.78826|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.7313|
|Nearby Lodging:||Jenny Lake Lodge|
The hike to Leigh Lake begins from the Leigh Lake Trailhead, located just north of Jenny Lake. To reach the trailhead turn west off Teton Park Road at the North Jenny Lake Junction, located roughly 10.6 miles north of Moose Junction, and 10 miles south of Jackson Lake Junction. Drive another 1.4 miles to the turn-off for the String Lake and Leigh Lake trailheads. After turning right, continue for another 0.4 miles to the Leigh Lake Trailhead at the end of the road.
From the parking area walk the short paved path down to String Lake where you'll immediately reach the Valley Trail, also known as the String Lake Loop Trail. Once on the footpath, turn right and begin heading north along the eastern shore of String Lake.
I highly recommend starting your hike as early as possible for the best views of the mountains above String and Leigh Lakes during the early morning light. From the trailhead you'll have great views of 12,325-foot Teewinot Mountain and 11,144-foot Rockchuck Peak. As you proceed along the shores of String Lake you’ll also be treated to some absolutely stunning views of Mt. Moran.
At 12,605 feet Mt. Moran is the 4th highest mountain in Grand Teton National Park. It's named for artist Thomas Moran whose landscape paintings were critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. The mountain was also the site of a tragic airplane crash. On November 21, 1950, a C-47 cargo plane owned by the New Tribes Mission crashed into the peak during a thunderstorm, killing all 21 missionaries on board. Although a rescue party was able to locate the wreckage several days later, the precarious position of the crash made it impossible to recover the plane or its victims.
At one-half mile from the trailhead hikers will pass the String Lake Horse Trail, which branches off to the right. At almost nine-tenths of a mile you'll reach the Bearpaw Lake Trail split. The trail leading towards the left circles around String Lake. Hikers should turn right at this junction to continue on towards Leigh Lake.
A short distance later you'll reach the Leigh Lake portage trail, which branches off towards the left. To continue on towards Leigh Lake hikers should veer to the right at this junction.
At roughly one mile from the trailhead hikers will arrive at an unmarked junction. The path leading to the left connects with the Leigh Lake portage trail. It also provides a few access points to the lake's south shore. To continue on towards the best views from the shores of Leigh Lake you should proceed straight ahead at this junction.
Unlike String Lake, access to Leigh Lake is relatively sparse. There are really only a few spots where you can easily reach the lakeshore for great views.
At just over 1.8 miles you'll reach one of the best spots along the shore, making this a good place to end your hike. Here you'll find a small rocky beach that offers outstanding views of the middle Tetons, which includes 12,325-foot Teewinot Mountain, 11,144-foot Rockchuck Peak, 11,590-foot Mt. Woodring and Mt. Moran, looking from left to right.
Since this spot isn't marked in anyway, other than a short side trail that leads down to the lakeshore, you may not be able to find this exact spot without the help of a GPS to mark your mileage. There are a few spots prior to reaching this point that also offer great views, but we thought this place offered one of the best vantage points to relax and enjoy the views. You can also continue further down the trail for another 0.45 miles to the Leigh Lake backcountry campsite area. Along this series of campsites is a fairly long sandy beach area that also offers outstanding views of the Grand Tetons. In fact, if you're a backpacker, these sites are among the premier backcountry campsites in the entire park.
Leigh Lake is the third largest lake in the Tetons, and with a maximum depth of 250 feet, is one of the deepest. It was named by Ferdinand Hayden during his 1872 expedition for Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh, an itinerant trapper and early tour guide who helped guide the expedition through the area. Nearby Jenny Lake was named for his wife, a Shoshone Indian who assisted with camp logistics. In 1876 Jenny and their six children died of smallpox.
If you still have the energy and wish to explore more of the area you'll have the option of continuing all the way to Bearpaw Lake. Roundtrip this would add another 4.1 miles to your overall mileage, with very little elevation gain.