The Amphitheater Lake Trail in Grand Teton National Park is one of the top hikes in the whole region. After several switchbacks you will find yourself in the most tranquil of alpine lakes, and the views of Grand Teton and other magnificent peaks are hard to miss!
From Colter Bay drive south along the John D. Rockefeller Parkway, turning right onto Teton Park Rd. Keep going along Teton Park Rd. for approximately 22.5km then turn right (west) at the Lupine Meadows Junction. Alternatively, from Moose, drive 11.0km north and turn left at the Lupine Meadows Junction. You will continue along Lupine Meadows Rd. until it ends.
|When to do|
June through October
Out and back
You access this hike via a gravel road with some potholes, however all two-wheel drive vehicles should be able to make it. Go slow! This parking lot is very busy as many mountaineers and climbers use it to access fun routes past both Amphitheater Lakes and Garnet Canyon. Get here early, or be prepared to have to walk for a while to get to the trailhead.
The trailhead is at the end of the road, where there are pit toilets. The first part of the hike remains flat, but you will quickly start the “meat and potatoes’” of the climb. For nearly 5.0km there are switchbacks through the forest, occasionally popping out from the trees with views down across the valley. You will also be able to see Bradley and Taggart Lakes below you.
There is an abundance of wildlife along this trail. Some of the adorable animals include chipmunks, squirrels, grouse and marmots. However, along some of the long switchbacks we did see a mother bear with two cubs – the most dangerous bear one can see. Take heed if you are hiking by yourself, and try to stick close to other groups.
At the first junction you will arrive at a point towards Bradley and Taggart Lakes. Continue right towards Amphitheater Lake and Garnet Canyon. Follow several more switchbacks until you reach another junction. From here turn right towards Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes.
This trail will climb even further and gain even more elevation as you approach these high alpine lakes — switchbacking up you will pass up a lush, steep gully. This is where we first saw a mother bear, so make noise and stay vigilant.
You will first come to Surprise Lake, a small lake surrounded by the ridges leading up to the Tetons. Continuing a few hundred meters further you will find Amphitheater Lake, a much larger lake with a far more beautiful backdrop. Directly above Amphitheater Lake is Disappointment Peak, which many climbers ascend with some moderate scrambling. You might also be able to spot Grand Teton and Mt. Owen in the background, as well as Teewinot Mountain and its long sloping ridge on your right.
There are many rocks to sit on around Amphitheater Lake, making it a great spot to relax! Take care when you go down, as the trail is quite steep in sections.
To extend the hike, climb up the ridge on the left of the lake to get a view over to Middle Teton and down to Garnet Canyon.
This is a quintessential lunch spot for avid hikers. Bring a warm coat and your favorite picnic to bask in the beauty of the Tetons.
Some even go swimming in Amphitheater Lake. If you are daring and have no fear of cold water, bring a towel and go for a dip!
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