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Hike to Phelps Lake

Alta, Wyoming

4.9/5
based on 12 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 at the visitors center and followed the Woodland Trail to jumping rock. The trail was relatively flat and easy to follow wish some fun boulders along the way for practicing outdoor bouldering. The rock was a thrilling jump into chilly waters and oh so fun!

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.

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

Huckleberry Point via Death Canyon Trailhead

Backpack to the Death Canyon Shelf

Backpack to Alaska Basin via Death Canyon

Phelps Lake Overlook

Let Adventure be your Destination in Wyoming

Wyoming’s wide-open spaces make it easy to get off the grid and on a trail, through a park, into a forest, up a mountain or down a river. During your journey through Wyoming’s Black to Yellow Region, discover geologic marvels, dense evergreen forests and sprawling prairielands.

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