Two Ocean & Emma Matilda Lakes (Outside Loop)
|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views, Wildlife, Fall Aspens|
|Trail Location:||Two Ocean Lake Trailhead|
|Roundtrip Length:||13.6 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6910 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||965 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||142 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||7586 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||15.53 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.90087|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.50205|
The Two Ocean & Emma Matilda Lakes Outside Loop hike begins from the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead. To reach the trailhead turn onto Pacific Creek Road, located roughly 0.9 miles north of Moran Junction. After driving roughly 2 miles turn left onto Two Ocean Road and drive another 2.4 miles to the end of the gravel road.
Although you can make an excellent case for starting this loop in either direction, this hike description follows the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. This hike, therefore, begins near the kiosk on the north side of the parking area.
After passing a couple of picnic tables at the trailhead, the trail makes a wide arc around the east end of Two Ocean Lake. Soon you'll pass through a large field that offers good views of Grand Teton and Mt. Moran in the far off distance.
The park makes it quite clear that bears are present in this area. They 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 eight-tenths of a mile the trail reaches one of its closest points on the north side of the lake. Although you're still roughly 30 or 40 yards away from the lakeshore, you'll still have some pretty good views of Grand Teton and Mt. Moran.
As you proceed along the north side of the lake the trail will travel across several sagebrush and grassy meadows. This section of the route also passes through several aspen groves, making this a great choice for an autumn hike.
At just over 2 miles the trail approaches the shore once again. The views of Grand Teton peeping over the lake are quite impressive here.
At 2.8 miles the trail begins circling around the west end of Two Ocean Lake. Here you'll be able to see the entire length of the lake, as well as the Gros Ventre Mountains in the far-off distance.
There are many opportunities for spotting wildlife as you proceed around the two lakes. We saw several mule deer in this area during our most recent hike. We've also seen common loons, osprey, and a couple of trumpeter swans on Two Ocean Lake during previous hikes. Portions of the hike also pass through prime moose habitat, and of course bears are frequently seen in this area as well. Hikers should also keep an eye out for elk, coyotes, martens, common mergansers and other waterfowl as you travel this route.
At just over 3.4 miles hikers will reach the South Two Ocean Lake Trail junction. This trail leads directly back to the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead. To continue on the loop, hikers should proceed straight ahead (towards Grand View Point) from this junction.
Roughly a quarter-of-a-mile past the junction hikers will pass the Pilgrim Creek Trail, which branches off to the right and heads towards Jackson Lake Lodge. Hikers should stay on the main trail and proceed straight up the hill. From this junction the trail climbs sharply, gaining almost 550 feet over the next eight-tenths of a mile to reach Grand View Point.
After climbing several switchbacks hikers will finally arrive at Grand View Point, located roughly 4.5 miles from the trailhead. From this perch you'll enjoy outstanding views of both Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake towards the east. Although the views are impressive from this vantage point, I strongly recommend walking another hundred feet or so past Grand View Point where you'll find a social trail leading off towards the right. Take this trail and walk a very short distance up a small bare hill where you'll find an absolutely stunning view of Jackson Lake and the Grand Tetons.
From the high point the trail immediately begins descending. As you descend along the south side of Grand View Point you'll reach a hillside meadow that offers even better views of the Grand Tetons. Although it's not the best place to stop for an extended break, the views here are much more expansive as a result of fewer trees.
At just over 6.1 miles hikers will reach the northern leg of the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. A turn to the left leads back towards the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead, while a turn to the right would take you to Jackson Lake Lodge. Hikers should proceed straight ahead at this junction and continue along the trail that travels between Christian Pond and Emma Matilda Lake.
This next segment of the loop passes through large sagebrush meadows that offer a few glimpses of the Grand Tetons towards the west.
At roughly 7.1 miles hikers will reach a fork in the trail. The trail leading to the right effectively completes the eastern portion of the Christian Pond Loop, though a sign states that the trail is no longer maintained. The fork to the left continues the loop hike around Emma Matilda Lake. A short distance beyond this junction you'll reach the official junction for the Emma Matilda Lake and Christian Pond Loop trails. A hard right here would put you back on the Christian Pond Loop. To continue on the loop around Emma Matilda Lake hikers should bear to the left at this junction.
From the junction the trail enters the forest and begins heading towards the south shore of Emma Matilda Lake. At just over 7.4 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 just over 7.5 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 a great place for an extended break.
Just beyond Lookout Rock you'll pass another side trail that leads back to Jackson Lake Lodge.
At roughly 8 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 just over 10.5 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 10.9 miles hikers will reach a trail junction in the middle of a grassy meadow that's surrounded by groves of aspen trees. A turn to the right would lead you to an unmarked trailhead on Pacific Creek Road. Hikers have the option of starting a similar loop from this trailhead, which would shorten your hike by roughly eight-tenths of a mile. 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 11.9-mile mark, hikers will enjoy some really good views of the Grand Tetons rising above the lake towards the west.
At roughly 12.5 miles hikers will arrive at one last fork in the trail. The path leading towards the left continues along the north side of Emma Matilda Lake, while the trail to the right returns back to the Two Ocean Trailhead.
Much of this last leg back to the Two Ocean Trailhead travels through open meadows. Over the course of the last half-mile or so hikers will pass through another long stretch of thimbleberries and high brush. This is another good place to make a lot of noise to alert any bears that might be around that you're passing through their territory. At 13.6 miles hikers will finally return to the trailhead.