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Two Ocean to Emma Matilda Lake

The Two Ocean to Emma Matilda Lake Loop in Grand Teton National Park is a fantastic 9.75 mile loop that features the best scenery from both Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes, while also ascending Grand View Point as an added bonus. The remote location is perfect for getting away from the crowds in the Teton Mountains, while also getting rewarded with beautiful views of the northern parts of the park.

Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Loop Trail Description

While the loop can be accessed in multiple locations, the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead makes for an ideal starting point. From the trailhead, head north along the Two Ocean Lake Loop, immediately crossing the lake’s runoff through dense willows. The trail will pass through a section of forest that emerges in a large meadow with aspen trees awaiting ahead.

The trail does a minor amount of elevation change as it wraps around to the lake’s north shore, traveling northwest toward Grand View Point.

The north shore of Two Ocean Lake is wildly scenic in a peaceful and intimate way, guiding you through sprawling meadows and tranquil forest groves. Occasional aspen groves also add a calming soundtrack to the area as their leaves flitter in the breezes. Opening up into meadows, you’re occasionally treated to the Teton Mountains rising high in the distance.

As you approach a wide peninsula, the trail will head to the backside where you’ll lose your view of the lake, but will be immersed in the fingers of forests dropping down to the lake’s shores. Large groves of willows begin to surround the trail as you begin to near the water’s edge again, obscured by the vegetation. The trail continues to bounce through forest and meadow as you reach the west side of the lake where it drops into more willows and then into an older and denser forest.

At just over 3.25 miles in, you’ll reach a junction where you’ll want to head right to veer off of the Two Ocean Lake Loop and connect to the Grand View Point Trail. This small connector trail is only a quarter of a mile and ascends easily through the dense woods. At 3.7 miles in, you’ll reach the next junction, this one connecting to the Bug Canyon Trail heading right, and the Grand View Point Trail heading left. Proceed left to begin a steep ascent up the backside of Grand View Point.

A lengthy ascent begins immediately from the junction, heading up below Grand View Point, still in thick and mature woods. There’s an eerily calming silence that fills the landscape, knowing that anything or nothing at all could be in the surrounding brush and vegetation. A series of switchbacks begins climbing up below the overlook, the trees thinning out the closer to the summit you reach.

As you crest the last switchback, the trail makes one last climb along the ridge ascending easily up toward Grand View Point itself. Tucked away in a small grove of trees is a sign marking the popular overlook, though the more visited point, often mistaken for Grand View Point, is a bit farther below. However from the viewpoint is a stunning view eastward overlooking both Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes below the gorgeous peaks of the Absaroka Mountains in the distance. While the Tetons might be hard to see from this vantage point, the solitude and rugged wilderness opening up below you make this spot a special one regardless of which mountains you’re seeing.

Continuing ahead below Grand View Point, the trail drops down to another rocky knoll, this one offering up a stunning vista of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountains. As such, it’s easy to see why people coming up from the main trailhead in the opposite direction would mistake this spot for Grand View Point.

Heading down from Grand View Point, you’ll wind down back into the forest where an extra view of both east then west appear along your descent thanks to brief breaks in the trees. A bit farther beyond, you’ll reach another junction at 5.2 miles in.

Head left here where you’ll go up and over a small rise. You’ll weave through a sparse forest before descending into a noticeably denser forest. At that point you’ll cross a small stream, continuing into the trees before the trail opens up into a small meadow lined by a ridge on the left. After gently climbing along the ridge, the Tetons appear once again beyond the meadow as the trail bends back toward the woods and over the small ridge. Through more of the sparse forest and meadows, you’ll climb up a small rise with another great view of the Tetons where you’ll then descend to a junction at 6.1 miles in.

From the junction, head left where you’ll quickly begin climbing up a hill through the forest, which can be steep in some places. Before the ascent is over, the trail emerges from the forest with an outstanding view over Emma Matilda Lake. The stunning views continue as the trail continues to steeply climb, topping out over an xx foot rise with beautiful and rewarding views of the lake and beyond.

Once on top, the trail becomes much easier as it weaves through sporadic trees that ultimately grow denser. The occasional meadow will break up the forest as you begin to make a gradual descent, growing steeper through thicker woods.

Emerging into a large and open meadow, the trail meanders through above the lake. An occasional tree dots the meadow before you pass through a larger grove and reach another junction, this one at 8.7 miles in.

Taking a left from the junction, you’ll head up a small hill through large meadows, then make a gradual descent back into the forest. Continue through the forest and after 1 mile from the previous junction, you reach the junction with the Two Ocean Lake Loop, followed immediately by the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead, rounding out 9.75 miles.

Getting There

From the Moran Entrance Station, head straight for 1 mile, turning right onto Pacific Creek Road. Follow that for 2.1 miles, then turn left onto Two Ocean Lake Road. Proceed straight for 2.4 miles and the road will dead end at the trailhead.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com