Grand Teton National Park has a large variety of hikes that you can do for any experience level. We stayed in the area for a little under a week so we got a chance to explore a few different hike options. String Lake Loop was one that we did on our third day in the park just as a short option to get moving.
What I noticed immediately was that even though we had just done Jenny Lake the day previously and they were pretty close together, the String Lake hike felt different and new still.
String Lake Loop Trail
Trial Length: 3.85 miles
Elevation Gain: 275 ft
Finding the Trailhead
We thought this would be an easier task than it was but ourselves and another couple were quickly lost trying to find the trailhead. As you drive in, you follow signs to the String Lake Parking lot but the first lot doesn’t get you right to the trailhead! We ended up wandering through the woods a little along the lake edge and then popping out at another parking lot a bit farther down before we found the official trailhead.
That being said, it IS a loop trail, so this won’t make or break your adventure. If we hadn’t pulled off at that first parking lot, we wouldn’t have hiked past the lone elk standing in the woods. I never tire of seeing wildlife in the National Parks!
String Lake Start
Several of the other posts I read about String Lake recommend going in a counter-clockwise direction but I completely disagree. We decided to go clockwise and had some of the most STUNNING mountain reflection photos from this hike. It also makes the climb towards the mountains a bit more gradual than the other direction.
The trail takes you across a footbridge over String Lake outlet. As you walk across the bridge you’ll be staring right up at the mountains. (Doing this hike first thing in the morning is SO worth it due to the glowing mountains.) This area also provides some amazing reflection photo options with the mountains on the lake Who doesn’t love a good reflection photo!
From here, the trail then winds through an older burn area with ample sun before ducking into the trees for a decent amount of the rest of the hike. An avalanche in the past snapped some of the trees in this area and opened up some great views overlooking String Lake.
Once the trail ducks into the trees, it begins the climb along the edge of the mountains. You have an option to turn off the trail and continue up to Paintbrush Canyon and Holly Lake. That option is a much more difficult experience level but I’d love to give them a try someday!
The trail continues up and over a bit of a hill and then travel back down the other side at a much steeper grade. The total elevation gain for this hike is only 275 ft so totally doable for beginner hikers.
There are a few benches sprinkled throughout the elevation gain area so that if you need to take a quick break, you can rest your feet!
As the trail begins to level out again, you will cross over another footbridge over the Leigh Lake Outlet. We stopped and took a nice break here to sit on the footbridge and enjoy the views of the Tetons. Some of the peaks that you’ll be able to see along this route are Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton, Mt. Owen, and Mt. Moran.
On the other side of the footbridge, there are opportunities to turn left and walk through the woods out to the shore of Leigh Lake. If you would like to extend your hike, you can continue along the eastern shore of Leigh Lake from here or continue on all the way to the Bearpaw Lake Loop.
Following the String Lake Shore
Once back on the String Lake Loop trail, the path follows along the shore and through the trees, opening up often for grand views of the mountains across the lake. We passed by several photographers set up with their tripods on the shore trying to capture early morning views and wildlife.
There are a series of other trails that split off from this area including the String Lake Horse Trial but you will want to stay along the shore before it brings you back to the parking lot. We had much of the trail to ourselves along the way but noticed a lot more people on this back stretch once we were heading back to the car.
Tips & Advice
- Get there early! This trail is a very popular area to hike because it is accessible to all experience levels. Get there early to beat the crowds.
- Be bear aware! Bring Bear Spray and talk loudly as you hike.
- Be prepared for weather! Depending on the time of year, be prepared with sunscreen or extra layers. We went in mid-September and we bundled up at sunrise and slowly removed layers as we continued on with our hike.
- Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. It is common to see moose, elk and bears in this area so keep an eye out!
- Look up the coordinates for the parking lot! We didn’t do our research properly ahead and ended up parking in the wrong area. It doesn’t make much of a difference but coming prepared helps since there is no cell service in the area.
- Use Alltrails to see the alternative options! String Lake Loop connects to TONS of other trails so if you’d like to extend your trail here or there, Alltrails is super helpful for looking at the directions and lengths of trails that split off.
- Take it all in! Take moments to slow down and take in the scenery! This hike is a gem and it’s a blessing to be able to explore such a beautiful area of our country.
Have you been to String Lake or the Grand Tetons? Which trails did you take and what would you recommend for a route? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Interested in planning your own road trip to the Grand Tetons and surrounding areas? Check out InMotion Adventures to see how I can help you plan the trip of your dreams to Grand Teton National Park! Until next time…
Your pics are gorgeous, I will remember them and it will be a reminder to approach clockwise on our visit! Great shot of that elk along your way, bet you are glad you didn’t bump in to any bears.
Thank you! And no bears on this hike but we did come face to face with one on our hike around Jenny Lake the previous day! Haha
This looks like a beautiful trail. I would also spend a lot of time getting those reflection shots, lol! Perfect length and not too much elevation gain, I’ll definitely add this to my list of hikes whenever I finally make it out to this park. Thanks for the tips!
You’re very welcome! And yes, reflection shots are the BEST!
Your photos are stunning. I definitely want to visit after reading this post!
Thank you! I really appreciate that 🙂
What a gorgeous hike! In addition to bear spray and making noise, I also keep a whistle with me when I’m enjoying the great outdoors in bear country.
Ooo a whistle is a good idea!