I spent a great amount of time researching possible hikes for my family’s visit to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. My kids are 8 and 10, so old enough for a few miles, but young enough to complain if it got to be too long or difficult. The kind of trail we sought needed to be less than 3 or so miles and easy terrain.
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If you’re looking for a scenic but not-too-challenging hike, read on. If you want to try an even more scenic (but longer trail), check out the the Cascade Canyon Trail, which was included in The Broke Backpacker’s list of the best hiking trails in the USA.
Where to find easy trails in Grand Tetons
Full disclosure: Some of you might think the second trail isn’t really a “hike.” That’s a fair opinion, but if you’re traveling with little ones or someone who needs an accessible trail, it’s a good hike. Trust me. Both trails start at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, which has ample parking (though it does fill up).
I know what you’re thinking: Grand Teton National Park is SO big, couldn’t you find other trails? Well, yes, and I had several in mind when I was planning our trip. In fact, I had several picked out that were marked for “Best Hikes for Children,” “Best for Wildlife Watching” and “Best for Great Views,” which I had found in the excellent Falcon Guides book “Best Easy Day Hikes: Grand Teton National Parks.”
Moose Ponds Trail: Looking for wildlife
We settled on Moose Ponds trail after reading the Falcon Guides book. It was ranked high for wildlife watching, and being just at 2.6 miles and marked Easy, it sounded just right for our first outing.
The start of the hike is at the very popular Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center, and at first, it’s a paved trail. This part is an accessible path down to the lake, and if you have pretty young kids, it may be all you need for family to experience nature. But, keep going, because it gets even more beautiful and the crowds start to thin out.
To get to Moose Ponds, you need to walk south of Jenny Lake, crossing the bridge at the boat ferry dock. Most people will stop here to take the ferry; you’ll want to keep walking. The well-worn trail at this point is dirt with rocks jutting out here or there. It’s still pretty easy to hike, but keep your eye on the ground to not trip.
FYI: There is a parking lot at the boat launch parking, but it is for those launching boats, not hikers.
The trail you’re on now is Valley Trail. Be on the lookout for a sign marking Moose Ponds, you’ll want to head to the left at that point when most everyone else is continuing on Valley Trail.
Moose Ponds trail feels remote, when it really isn’t. I’ll admit, we were a little nervous about bears and, well, the trail’s namesake, moose. It feels remote, but it really isn’t., though. Besides birds, we saw a marmot and lots of clues to the busy life of the resident beavers. But, there were no huge animal sightings. We did cross a few streams and saw waterfalls in the distance, so overall, I’d say it was a wonderful hike.
It felt a little longer than 2.6 miles, by the way. Just ask my kids.
The trail at Jenny Lake Visitor Center
The trail at Jenny Lake starts at, you guessed it, the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. I highly recommend this trail for this with limited mobility or really young kids who can’t walk far. It’s paved, it leads to beautiful views of the lake, and it’s very easy.
There are benches throughout this trail, which are good for resting, but also highlight a different animal in the park. My kids thought it was funny that it not only showed the animal’s tracks, but its poop, too.
Adapting your plans on a national park vacation
I wish I could say we hiked more in Grand Teton National Park, but time ran short. Our other “long” easy hike was going to be Hidden Falls trail. Our plans changed after one kid fell during a pit stop to the hike to take in the lake views.
We decided hiking wasn’t in the cards and opted for a fun day in Jackson, Wyoming (AKA Jackson Hole). I’ll be sharing a blog post about that day in Jackson soon, but suffice to say it was exactly what my family needed that day, after all.
Plan a Grand Teton National Park Trip
Want to do more than just a quick hike in Grand Teton National Park? We stayed three nights at Grand Teton. We combined three nights in Grand Teton National Park with two nights in Yellowstone National Park. They’re very close to each other! By the way, we went in mid-June and it was the perfect time to see the wildflowers bloom.
Read these posts about Grant Teton and Yellowstone: