From the Granite Canyon Trailhead parking lot, head north for 1 mile along the snow-covered unplowed, skier tracked Moose-Wilson road. The snow covered road winds gently north through aspen and pine forests. At 1.1 mile, there is an open log buck and rail fence on the right (east), the start of a side trail going east to the Snake River dike (another XC ski trail option).
30 yards further north on the main road on the opposite side (left or west) is an opening through buck and rail wood fence, the easiest ski trail up to Phelps Lake. This trail follows the former JY Ranch road, now a Park service road in summer. The trail is less tracked typically than the road trail, nonetheless, it usually has a good ski track set by skiers and snowshoers on the side. The trail heads west with a gentle climb, and gradually turns northwest, crossing meadows and stands of trees. After ½ mile, the trail turns northward. After another 1/8 mile, the trail splits.
Take the left (west) trail which will bring you more directly over the moraine (glacial hill surrounding the lake) to the rest/view point overlooking Phelps Lake. The left hand trail has several short uphill climbs that can easily be done as a short herringbone up the slope. Once on top, the trail levels out. 80 yards further north, the views open up at the Phelps Lake overlook.
Wooden bench and boulders offer a nice spot for a picnic. Once the Lake is well frozen, one can ski out onto the lake – be sure to check with GTNP re current conditions, and stay away from the south east end, where Phelps Lake drains into Lake Creek with running water all year round.
Return via the same path for the easiest descent...
Or, return by variation #3 below - per the GPS map.
1/ Huckleberry Point extension: ¾ mile further west –north-west around the Lake edge.
2/ Full circumnavigation of Phelps Lake – moderate to difficult, due to narrow stretches of trail on the west side – 8 miles in total – return to the road via the Woodland summer trail, then right on the Moose-Wilson road to rejoin the original road section of the trail..
3/ Return from Phelps Lake Lookout via the Lake Creek Trail: leave the lookout and initially head southeast, passing the restrooms on your left, then follow Lake Creek summer trail – Lake Creek will be on your left (north) as you ski out thru open forest and meadow. There are a few short areas up steep uphill and downhill, where one may need to take skis off to avoid a fast downhill run and crash. The trail is 1 mile from the Lake to the snow-covered Moose-Wilson road. Take your skis off just before the road, and the last 5 yards onto the road are steep (rock steps). Turn right (south) at the road, ski ½ mile back to the turn and buck rail fence trails per above.