Two Ocean Lake Loop
|Trail Features:||Scenic Lake Views, Wildlife, Fall Aspens|
|Trail Location:||Two Ocean Lake Trailhead|
|Roundtrip Length:||6.5 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6910 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||150 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||46 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||6973 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||6.80 (moderate)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.90087|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.50205|
The Two Ocean Lake 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, we chose to proceed in a counter-clockwise direction because we thought the views of the Tetons are better if you were to proceed westbound along the northern side of the lake. 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 also 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 along 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 Mount Moran and the Cathedral Group.
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 roughly 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 will be many opportunities for spotting wildlife as you proceed around the lake. 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 in the past. Hikers should also keep an eye out for bears, moose, 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, which branches off to the left here. However, I highly recommend taking the side trip up to Grand View Point first. Although it's a hike of 1.1 miles, and a climb of roughly 635 feet, the views from this vantage point are simply stunning, and well worth the effort if you have the time and energy.
Whether you take this side trip or not, the loop hike continues by turning towards the east and proceeding along the South Two Ocean Lake Trail.
At roughly 4.2 miles the trail passes through a fairly long stretch of huckleberries. 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.
Soon the trail begins descending a ridge. At the bottom of the short descent it passes through a willow thicket and crosses a creek. On the east side of the creek is an unmarked trail, which appears to be an old social trail. Hikers should proceed straight ahead here. From this point forward you'll have sporadic contact with the lake.
Much of the remainder of the hike passes 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 these attract grizzly bears, and is another one of the reasons why the park emphasizes that hikers need to be "bear aware" in this area.
At roughly 4.7 miles hikers will reach a large meadow that arguably offers the best views of Two Ocean Lake from its southern shore.
At roughly 6.5 miles hikers will complete the loop around the lake and return back to the trailhead.