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Best Easy Day Hikes Grand Teton National Park includes descriptions and detailed maps for twenty easy-to-follow hikes through some of the park’s most magnificent scenery.

Moose Ponds

Trail Features: Scenic Lake Views, Wildlife, Fall Aspens moose ponds
Trail Location: Jenny Lake Trailhead
Roundtrip Length: 2.7 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 6800 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 195 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 144 Feet
Highest Elevation: 6886 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 3.09 (easy)
Parking Lot Latitude 43.75114
Parking Lot Longitude -110.7238

Trail Description:

The hike to Moose Ponds begins from the Jenny Lake Trailhead. To reach the trailhead turn west off Teton Park Road at the South Jenny Lake Junction, located roughly 7.7 miles north of Moose Junction. From the junction drive another half-mile to the boat dock parking area.

teewinot-mountainFrom the Jenny Lake parking lot follow the paved path down to the boat dock area to access the loop trail around Jenny Lake. After just one-tenth of a mile you'll arrive at the East Boat Dock. Hikers should turn left onto the loop trail, which immediately crosses a long footbridge. From the footbridge you'll have an outstanding view of Teewinot Mountain towering above the lake.

At 12,325 feet Teewinot Mountain is the sixth highest peak in the Teton Range. Its name comes from a Shoshone word that means "many pinnacles." It's likely that Teewinot once referred to the entire Teton Range, rather than just this one peak. Fritiof Fryxell and Phil Smith named the peak after making the first ascent of the mountain in 1929.

From the footbridge the trail circles around the south end of Jenny Lake. Covering roughly 1191 acres, the glacially-carved lake is the second largest lake in the Grand Tetons. At 423 feet it's also one of the deepest. The lake was named for a Shoshone Indian named Jenny who assisted with camp logistics during the Hayden Expedition of 1872. Nearby Leigh Lake is named for her husband, Richard "Beaver Dick" Leigh, an itinerant trapper and early tour guide who helped guide the Hayden Expedition through the area. In 1876 Jenny and their six children died of smallpox.

jenny-lakeAt four-tenths of a mile from the trailhead hikers will pass the boat launch area, which also offers some great views of Jenny Lake and the surrounding mountains.

A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp once stood along the south end of Jenny Lake. The camp was built in 1934 and was occupied through 1942 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Among its many accomplishments and responsibilities, the CCC constructed the Jenny Lake Trail during this time period.

At roughly eight-tenths of a mile you'll reach the Valley Trail junction. Hikers should continue straight ahead here. From the junction the trail makes a short climb up to the Moose Pond Trail junction, which is located almost a mile from the trailhead. From this point the main trail continues towards Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Hikers should turn left at this junction to proceed towards the two ponds.

A short distance from the junction you'll arrive at a small clearing that overlooks Moose Ponds. From this overlook the trail drops down to a basin below the view of Teewinot Mountain. In addition to the two Moose Ponds, this wetland area supports a dense thicket of willows, making this a great place to possibly spot a moose. Just above the wetlands are several aspen groves, also making this a great option for an autumn hike.

moose-pondsAt the bottom of the short descent the trail travels around the eastern shore of the first pond. From there it makes a fairly wide circle around the north end of the second pond. This section of the route passes through portions of the dense willow thicket seen from above. It's best to make a lot of noise and to keep your guard up for any moose that might be on or near the trail.

At roughly 1.3 miles you'll reach a relatively faint side trail that leads towards a small rise above the northwestern side of the second pond. From this junction open views of the pond are only a short walk away through a thicket of willows.

As you might expect from the name, this entire basin area is prime moose habitat. You may notice a lot of beaver activity in the area as well, including downed trees and a beaver lodge on one of the ponds.

From the second pond you'll have the option of extending your hike to create a loop hike. The Moose Pond Trail continues over to Lupine Meadows Road. From there you'll follow the gravel road and the Valley Trail through Lupine Meadows to return back to the Jenny Lake area. The mileage for this entire loop hike is roughly 3.5 miles.