The Aspen Ridge Trail is a 2.6 mile scenic alternative to access Phelps Lake, branching off from the Lake Creek Trail and connecting with the Phelps Lake Loop. It also has the distinction of being the most strenuous trail in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (LSR) trail system. Regardless, it’s a great way to extend loop options and get some extra scenery in.
Aspen Ridge Trail Description
The Aspen Ridge Trail, for most people, begins along the Lake Creek Trail, about 0.75 miles from the LSR Visitor Center. The signed junction points left to access the trail, where it immediately begins climbing up a nearby moraine. Mostly forested, the trail winds through mature woods as it maintains a steady descent from the moraine.
After about another 0.75 miles in, the trail will begin to parallel the creek pouring out of Open Canyon high above. This makes for some wonderfully peaceful hiking as the white noise from the creek provides a soothing natural soundscape.
As the Aspen Ridge Trail begins to veer away from the creek, it also begins climbing back up the moraine, something it will do for close to 1 mile. Over mostly zigs and zags, the trail climbs higher and higher, occasionally providing a striking view of the Teton Mountains just ahead. As is to be expected from the name, the trail also weaves through large and beautiful aspen groves. The natural wind chimes make for a fantastic addition to the dramatic landscape, encouraging frequent breaks from the consistent climb to appreciate the scenery.
Upon reaching the crest of the moraine, the trail switchbacks down through the thickening forest. You’ll soon pop out at a small meadow before entering the forest once again. A bit farther ahead, the Aspen Ridge Trail connects with the Phelps Lake Loop, just a couple dozen yards or so from the terminus of the Lake Creek Trail. From here, you can either loop back via the Lake Creek Trail or the nearby Woodland Trail, or extend your hike along the Phelps Lake Loop.
From the Craig Thomas Visitor Center in the town of Moose, head north along the Teton Park Road and make the first available left onto the Moose-Wilson Road. Continue down the Moose-Wilson Road for 3.7 miles until you see the left turn for the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Follow that road until it dead-ends at the parking area. The Lake Creek Trail begins at the Visitor Center about 100 yards from the parking area.
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