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Grizzly Lake

Grizzly Lake reflecting the surrounding hills and mountains in its clear water. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

The Grizzly Lake Trail is a moderately strenuous 4.3 mile hike into the lower Gros Ventre Mountains to a serene glacial lake. While the hike is listed as moderate, the consistent elevation change can feel strenuous to many. In addition, the first 2.3 miles of the trail are shared with the Blue Miner Lake Trail.

Grizzly Lake Trail Description

The trail begins by wandering up a small hill, traversing briefly through a forest grove. You’re quickly treated to a great view of the Gros Ventre River as it flows below the Red and Lavender Hills. You’ll quickly veer away from the river and head through a meadow toward a larger hill.

After winding into spacious woods, you’ll climb another small hill where you’ll pop out into rolling sagebrush flats. Once out of the woods, you’ll see the backside of Sheep Mountain rising above the nearby hills. Just a bit farther up and the Teton Mountains also rise up to the west beyond the lower Gros Ventre Mountains. Extended panoramic views await as you make an easy ascent up a small hill. You’ll wrap around the base of a hill as you head back toward another forest. Along the way you’ll be passing by the boundaries of a private ranch. Please respect their boundaries and stay on the trail.

The Teton Mountains rising high above the Red Hills. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

At the other end of the forest, you’ll ascend a small hill and emerge from the woods, once again into sagebrush flats. This will become a familiar pattern as the trail makes frequent crossings through sagebrush meadows and forest groves. More iconic views of the Red Hills and Teton Mountains come into view before dropping down into a pair of small wooded drainages, the second being East Miner Creek.

Once you’ve crossed the creek, ie, the second drainage, you’ll climb out of the woods and onto the top of a hill with incredible views of the Red Hills, the Teton poking up in the distance. Weaving through small rolling hills along the ranch’s property boundary again, you’ll make another creek crossing, this one West Miner Creek. A steep climb up switchbacks awaits ascending an exposed hillside on the other side of the creek.

It’s immediately followed by another descent into a small wooded drainage. You’ll wind through the forest among the hills as a creek flows below on your right. Just ahead, you’ll reach a fork in the trail at 2.3 miles in. Head right to continue to Grizzly Lake.

Just beyond the junction, you’ll pass through some willows lining the gorgeously situated Cygnet Pond. You’ll meander along the willows before heading back into a forest grove. Through this grove, you’ll be able to see damage from a rare tornado that swept through in 2022.

Cygnet Pond lying among willows and small hills below the Red Hills along the Grizzly Lake Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Popping out into a meadow, keep an eye on the trail as it may be faint, making a U as it winds through the meadow. On the other side of the meadow, you’ll make a steep climb up through aspen trees on a relatively large hill. Near the top of the hill waits a stunning view eastward.

As the trail levels out heading into a large sagebrush meadow with sparse evergreens, you’re treated to some easy hiking through the silence of the mountains. Up ahead, the northern Teton Mountains rise above the nearby hills and ridges. You’ll reach a small seasonal pond at 3.3 miles in.

Descending steadily beyond the pond, you’ll wind down along a drainage and into a meadow surrounded by forest and small canyon walls. Through a lush meadow and sparse forests, you’ll soon reach more seasonal ponds in the woods that feed directly into Grizzly Lake. As you emerge from the thin forest, you’ll reach the shores of the lake, a wide and inviting glacial lake that sprawls below the surrounding hills. Take your time, enjoy the view, and when ready, head back out the same way you came in.

Getting There

From downtown Jackson, head north on Highway 89 for 6.8 miles. At the roundabout, head right (east) and follow the road past the Gros Ventre Campground and the town of Kelly where it will bend northward. After 8 miles from the roundabout, and 1.25 past Kelly, take a right onto Gros Ventre Road. Follow that road for 11.5 miles. Along the way you’ll pass the Atherton Creek Campground where the road will go from pavement to dirt. Once you cross the Gros Ventre River followed by a private ranch, the trailhead parking will be on your right.

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All content © Copyright Mike Cavaroc, Free Roaming Hiker & Free Roaming Photography