Two Ocean & Emma Matilda Lakes (Inside Loop)
|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views, Wildlife, Fall Aspens|
|Trail Location:||Two Ocean Lake Trailhead|
|Roundtrip Length:||9.4 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6910 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||1175 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||250 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||7586 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||11.75 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.90087|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.50205|
The Two Ocean & Emma Matilda Lakes Inside 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. The hike begins from the far end of the parking area.
Hikers will start-off by traveling along the south side of Two Ocean Lake. Although you can make an excellent case for starting this loop hike in either direction, this description follows the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
From the parking area you'll immediately reach a split in the trail. Hikers should veer to the right and proceed along the South Two Ocean Lake Trail. As the name implies, the trail traverses along the southern side of Two Ocean Lake. While passing through a very dense forest, the trail also passes through some long stretches of thimbleberries, as well as a few cow parsnip patches, both of which attract grizzly bears.
Indeed, 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 roughly 1.8 miles from the trailhead hikers will reach a large meadow that arguably offers the best views of Two Ocean Lake from its southern shore. During our hike we saw common loons, an osprey, and a couple of trumpeter swans gliding along the lakeshore. You should also keep an eye out for moose, elk, mule deer, coyotes, martens, common mergansers and other waterfowl as you travel this route.
At just over 2.1 miles you'll reach an unmarked split in the trail, which isn't marked on any map I've seen. The trail leading off towards the left appears to be a social trail. Hikers should continue straight ahead through the willow thicket to cross a creek and proceed to the other side. From this point forward you'll more or less lose contact with the lake.
After crossing the creek the trail climbs up and over a ridge, and soon begins passing through a fairly long stretch of huckleberries.
At just over 3 miles you'll reach the connector trail between the South Two Ocean Lake Trail and the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. To the right is the North Two Ocean Lake Trail which circles around the north side of Two Ocean Lake and eventually returns back to the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead. To continue on this loop hike you should turn left and begin heading towards Grand View Point.
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 4.1 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 almost 4.9 miles hikers will pass a side trail that leads to the Grand View Point parking area off Teton Park Road. To continue on the loop hikers should proceed straight ahead at this junction.
At roughly 5.8 miles hikers will reach the northern leg of the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. Hikers should turn left here to continue on the inside loop. From the junction the trail climbs roughly 375 feet over the course of the next six-tenths of a mile. As you ascend the ridge you'll have occasional views of the Teton Range towards the west, and as you approach the top you'll enjoy some fantastic views of Emma Matilda Lake looking towards the southeast. Over the course of the next mile or so the trail travels along a bluff that overlooks the lake that was named for the wife of William O. Owen, organizer of the first ascent of Grand Teton in 1898.
At roughly 7 miles hikers will begin passing through an area that was burned by a lightning-ignited wildfire in 1994.
At 7.8 miles the trail begins passing through a large grassy meadow. Just before reaching the next junction you'll pass 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 8.4 miles hikers will arrive at one last fork in the trail. The footpath leading to the right circles around Emma Matilda Lake, while the trail leading towards the left returns back to the Two Ocean Trailhead.
Much of the 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 9.4 miles hikers will finally return to the trailhead.