Emma Matilda Lake
A couple of weeks ago, Sal and I went hiking on one of our days off. Sal was even willing to do a longer one with me, so we headed out to Emma Matilda Lake Trail. This is a hike that I did myself last year in the spring but Sal had never been. This loop hike is about 11 miles. Some fall colors were beginning to emerge near the beginning of the hike.The first part of the hike took us by Christian Pond. It was named after Charles A. “Tex” Christian, who managed one of the first lodges in this area.
As we continued, we came to hike right along the shores of the lake itself. Emma Matilda Lake was named after the wife of William “Billy” Owen, who was the first, along with three other climbers, to ascend to the summit of Grand Teton in 1898. Glaciers scouring out hollows created the lake by pushing earth and rock ridges around the depression. Around 15,000 years ago, the glaciers began to retreat and then it filled with meltwater.
On the other side of the lake, the trail is above the lake and more open than the south side. This also allowed us to see further out and we could even see out to Jackson Lake from this vantage point.
Emma Matilda Lake was threatened by an irrigation project in the 1920’s when water storage rights were granted to a sugar company and a livestock company after the severe drought of 1919. Grand Teton National Park hadn’t been created yet, but the Superintendent of Yellowstone applied political pressure to halt construction of the water project.
An obsidian knife estimated to be 8,000 years old was found near Emma Matilda a number of years ago. Anthropologist believe early hunters living near Yellowstone migrated south in late spring to hunt for animals and gather food.
And then after about 10 miles, we were close to finishing up our hike along this beautiful willow area. Many times in this area, there is quite a bit of wildlife, but unfortunately for us, we really didn’t see any. We did get to hear a male Elk bugling to try to add to his harem, but we couldn’t see him. It was still fun to hear though! Happy Trails!