Today we put took a beautiful hike in Grand Teton National Park. The Heron Pond & Swan Lake Trail is a well traveled trail that is beautiful, generally flat, and easy. This hike is a little longer at 3 total miles, but it is definitely worth it.
To begin this hike, go to the far end of the parking lot at Colter Bay. Drive all the way down to the Visitor’s Center and turn left (the Visitor’s Center is right). Park as close to the corner as you can, because the trail starts there in front of a small building at the Hermitage Trailhead. This trail is wide, and there are a lot of other hikers making this part of the walk.
The trail follows right along the shore, but instead of being down on the beach, the trail is on a small bench about twenty vertical feet above the water. It loops around the shore for around a half of a mile before turning into the trees. At the first junction, go right to continue down Heron Pond. After a while, the trail splits again and the right fork leads to a more scenic view and an overlook, but it is a bit longer. We turned left because we felt like three miles was enough for us.
From this second junction, the trail climbs gently through the trees up to Heron Pond, which is beautiful. Lily pads cover much of the lake, and Canadian geese with their babies were swimming all over the place. There were also several varieties of ducks. At the far side of the lake is a massive beaver lodge. In fact, every direction you turn is a beautiful photo opportunity. We also spotted a bald eagle across the pond. He sat on a branch right in front of the purple mountain’s majesty of the Tetons.
The trail follows the edge of Heron Pond for quite a while and just as it turns away, it comes to a four-way junction. We turned hard left to complete the loop and pass Swan Lake, which isn’t very far. Swan Lake is a perfect beaver habitat, and we looked for a long time, but didn’t see any beavers. Again, there are lots of lilypads and geese swimming around. It is really beautiful.
From there, it’s just about a half mile back to the parking lot. This is an easy, beautiful hike through the trees with beautiful views. If you take the Heron Pond & Swan Lake Trail late in the evening or early in the morning, it is likely that you’d see some wildlife.