Swan Lake and Heron Pond Loop

Heron Pond Freezing Over for the Winter
Mount Moran of the Teton Mountains rising high above Heron Pond at Colter Bay, freezing over early in the winter season. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Distance: 3.3 miles

Type: Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Water: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Dog-friendly: No

The Swan Lake and Heron Pond Loop is a fantastic short and easy hike found in the northern portion of Grand Teton National Park, covering 3.3 miles round trip. It initially travels from Colter Bay of Jackson Lake, already enough to warrant a hike, before connect with two smaller but stunning bodies of water along the hike.

Swan Lake and Heron Pond Loop Description

From the Hermitage Point Trailhead at Colter Bay, the trail begins wide and through a forest along the banks of the bay. Along the way are tremendous views of the inlet as well as Mount Moran and the northern Teton Mountains towering in the background. You’ll quickly reach a small maintenance building with a great view on the opposite side of the trail. A junction quickly follows where heading straight will guide you to Swan Lake.

You’ll pass through a sagebrush meadow and reach another junction after only 0.1 miles. Continue straight through to head to Swan Lake. You’ll reenter the forest shortly after with Swan Lake becoming visible through the trees after another small distance of snaking through the forest.

Grasses Along Shores of Swan Lake
Tall grasses growing along the shores of Swan Lake below stormy weather. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

A few scenic stops along the lakeshore open up before you veer away just slightly to climb up a small hill. The lake is still visible through the peaceful trees as you drop back down to the back side of the lake for gorgeous wetland views. From here, the trail cuts back up into the forest, leaving the lake behind.

The trail ascends a small forested ridge before descending the same ridge, and as you reach the bottom, you can begin to see Heron Pond through the trees. A large junction awaits where a stunning view of the pond with the Teton Mountains rising in the background can be taken advantage of just beyond the junction.

The large junction is essentially broken down into two distinct parts: to the left is a fork heading left or right, and to the right is a similar fork, also heading left or right. Once you’ve soaked in the sublime views, head toward the junction on the right and stay left. This will drop down along the shores of Heron Pond as it winds along the perimeter. The trail soon veers away once and for all and heads back into the woods.

Teton Range Above Colter Bay
The northern Teton Mountains rising high above Colter Bay of Jackson Lake while the water level is unusually low. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

At the next unsigned fork, head left or right to continue back toward the trailhead. Each will meet up a short distance ahead. The trail soon pops back out at Jackson Lake where more colossal views open up in front of you. At another unsigned junction, head left to continue along the lake and head back to the trailhead. Finally you’ll reach a signed junction, directing you left at last to reach the trailhead a short distance ahead.

Getting There

From the Moran Entrance Station, head north along Highway 89 for 9.2 miles, and then turn left into Colter Bay. Follow that road to a large junction where you’ll make another left into a large parking area. Look for the trailhead at the end of the parking area on the right.

Elevation Profile for Swan Lake and Heron Pond
Elevation profile for the Swan Lake and Heron Pond Loop in Grand Teton National Park
Elevation and route courtesy of Route Scout

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