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Hike to Phelps Lake

Alta, Wyoming

4.9/5
based on 11 reviews

Details

Distance

4.22 miles

Elevation Gain

974 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by IdleTheoryBus

Enjoy epic cliff jumping with equally as great scenery! It's a moderate hike to one of the best swimming holes in the Tetons. 

Don’t look down! You’re about to cliff jump 40 feet from a granite boulder into a lake cold with Glacier runoff. This short and beautiful hike, with a four hundred foot climb, will lead you to our favorite summertime activity…jumping and swimming!

If you park at the Preserve trailhead, plan to get there early during summer months; the lot fills up fast. Using this trail the hike is flat out to Phelps Lake. When you reach the lake take a right in a north eastern direction and in a mile or so you will reach the jumping rock.

The insider/adventurous way to go is to park by the trailhead for Death Canyon. This trailhead is #12 on the paper park map. Down the dirt road there is unlimited parking, a major plus. Just don’t drive too far down the road; it becomes four wheel drive in a very obvious way. On this alternate entrance you will hike up 450 feet to Phelps Lake Overlook for a fantastic view down on the lake. Hike down the other side of the overlook and take a left south eastward around the lake to reach the jumping rock. This direction is a bit more strenuous but it is the way to go if you prefer quiet hikes.

The jumping rock is on the east side of the lake, and is visible from most open sections of its circumference. Its backdrop, looking north west into Death Canyon, is simply majestic. Likely, you will hear the screams of others taking the plunge as you near the water. Follow them to the adventure.

The top of the rock is wide enough for small groups of people to hang out, sun, and watch others leap. Be considerate of others on busy days and don’t occupy the space the entire afternoon.

In the Tetons, you must be bear aware. There are often black bears and grizzlies around the lake. Bear spray is recommended by the rangers, and we did see a bit of scat. Make sure to bring some food, maybe an adult beverage. Kids love this place; they'll take the plunge over and over. You should too; as today's deep philosophers put it, YOLO.

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Features

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

We started on the Death Canyon Trail because parking was booked at the other trailhead. We walked about 1 mile to the trailhead from our parking spot (just before you get to 4-wheel drive road). It was a leisurely walk. Then we hit the trail to the phelps lake overview. Very scenic. Take some pics. Then we hit the switchbacks down into the lake. When you are able hang a left. And follow the trail to the jumping rock. We arrived about 10:45. Not a lot of jumpers. Our kids had a blast jumping and swimming. The water is crystal clear, cold and about 23-25 foot jump. Great way to break up the hike. Total it was about 7 miles back to our car at the Death Canyon Trailhead. We did not see any bears but because of reviews we took bear spray. Happy to have it but not use it.

If you’re in Teton NP, you have to take the time to do some cliff jumping. The first time I went, there was a ton of deer and the walked right up to us and smelt our hands and then went on their way. Water is cold but it’s refreshing after a hike in.

You can spend a whole day here. Bring some lunch, and hang out on the rock for hours. Pro tip: If you're going to try to flip, time it right; otherwise a painful, painful belly flop is in store.

This is a great afternoon adventure.. bring a couple inter-tubes to chill on in the water after you get your fix of jumping off the boulders.

Great opportunity to get the adrenaline pumping. Great for beginners but fun for all, just jump far and you'll be grand. Went on Memorial Day and the waters cold but bearable. Just make sure you park at the Preserve or you'll have a 6 mile one way hike through back country to get to the hike. We did a 16 mile loop but know that that's not for everyone. Also be aware on the long trail there's still plenty of snow and fallen trees so it's hard to find the trail at times. Great spot though!

After a long hike up Death Canyon we hit Phelps Lake on our way back to the car. It's a great spot to jump, but there were at least 30 others there, making it pretty crowded. I would recommend trying to get there earlier in the day!

The hike itself is gorgeous, but the lake is outstanding. The hike is simple and quick, with Jump Rock providing an easy way to cool off quickly. I'm not much on cliff jumping, but it was easy enough for me to get down to the water and just swim as some of the other members of my party jumped!

This is a great place to go. I would go during the week if possible. There are tons of people over the weekend. Also, please be careful while you are there. Yesterday, I saw two people jump from the rock that did not know how to swim and another that kept running to edge and stopping right before jumping. Needless to say they were asking to get hurt. Other than that it is a blast and would recommend to anyone visiting. We started at the Granite Canyon Trailhead which is about a 5.5 mile hike to the rock.

So a friend of mine suggested to come down to this rock and jump off so I came to The Outbound for more specific instruction and found this post which was very helpful. I GPS tracked my hike down there and found it was 2.8 miles from Devils Canyon Trailhead which I hiked in about 45 minutes, but I was going at a pretty brisk pace. I met a ton of really cool people there and had a blast jumping, though the water is as expected and pretty cold. Though in the description of this jump it says it is 40ft when in reality I found it to be more like 25ft max. Anyways you can get some great shots with the mountains in the background as you jump!

Not only is this a sweet spot but the hike is amazing regardless of where your staring point is. It can be enjoyed safely but an irresponsible decision could lead to disaster. Try it if you feel confident but don't pressure other to do so. I normally jump at least 5 times, super fun! Go in feet first. I did however give myself a concussion the first visit (even going in feet first) so be careful.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Patrol Cabin at Death Canyon via Death Canyon Trail

Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass

Backpack to the Death Canyon Shelf

Huckleberry Point via Death Canyon Trailhead

Backpack to Alaska Basin via Death Canyon

Hike the Rockefeller Preserve Loop

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