Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail

HARD 145 reviews
#5 of 83 trails in

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail is a 8.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Moose, Wyoming that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September.

DISTANCE
8.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,942 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

snow

no dogs

Wyoming Business Council Tourism Office, Frank Norris Jr. Travel Center, I-25 & College Drive , Cheyenne, WY, 82002-0660, Phone: 307-777-7777, Fax: 307-777-6472

2 days ago

Not technically difficult: the trail is always obvious (except, see below) but often has lots of rocks embedded in the it. Use trekking poles! What makes this very strenuous is that you are always climbing. Look at the elevation gain over the course of the trail.

Even in late June, there can be snow at the higher elevations. We hiked this June 26, 2018, and had more and more snow as we got toward the end of the switchbacks. For the last stretch, after the switchbacks, we were simply tracking over 4 to5 feet of snow. If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is!

Take plenty of water, and tracking polls. Snow or not, they will be your best friends.

hiking
5 days ago

A FANTASTIC day hike for those who want to see the try beauty of the Tetons. Hiked this on July 12th for my 50th bday with 2 families age ranged from 14-53. Very well maintained with a nice constant grade. Took 3 hours at a leisurely pace up to the lakes and 2 hours down stopping to look for animals. Saw several including marmots , dear and a baby bear on the lower part. Didn’t start until 10 am so shroud have packed a little more water or a filter to take some for the lake. A single hiking pole also would have helped for the down hill.

Fabulous hike with great views!!

hiking
10 days ago

Definitely start this hike early, switchbacks can get long and tiresome but entirely worth it. Done this hike 3 times at the ages of 8, 10, and 18 so it can be done at a wide range of ages so long as children are aware and monitored. Saw three bears right away and a cub on the way back down.
First two times were in mid-late June and there was still a fair amount of snow but the last time (mid July) we were able to make it to Amphitheater no problem. Stunning views of the summits from the lake which is also a prime spot to stop for lunch. Good mix between shaded areas, open flower meadow, and rocky terrain. A hike for everyone!

Epic day hike! The elevation gain is a bit over what all trails stares and I won’t lie is it a grinder! But SO worth it. My girlfriend (who just did an iron man a few weeks ago- yes it was PAINFUL keeping up w her) and I did it in 3hr40min w a 30 min lunch break and a slower than normal pace due to me being out of shape. Obviously people were taking more time so you can stretch it out all day! Also all trails neglects to mention that you are at the base of Teton peak.. aka the biggest peak of the Tetons. So if you are wanting to get up in em this is the hike for you! We went July 4th weekend so it was crowded- but there is plenty of trail for all’s. Enjoy!

16 days ago

Tough. Awesome.

22 days ago

Got a little off in the snow because I listened to somebody who said Turn Here. Never do that..... just follow the AllTrails map!!!

hiking
23 days ago

Went out of Taggart Lake TH. Took a detour thru burnt wagon gulch. Didn’t make it up to the lakes due to snow, I was sick of snow! Lol I would do this hike again when I am feeling up for it.

24 days ago

Loved this hike! The meadows full of wildflowers were stunning and the smell of evergreen permeates the air. I found the navigation thru the snow more tricky than I anticipated and was thankful for the added stability from my trekking poles. The lake views with the Teton backdrop made every step of the 4 mile uphill climb worthwhile. Of 4 hikes in the hikes, this was far and away the best one and I can't recommend it enough.

24 days ago

6/26/18. Just finished! Phenomenal hike! Took kids (12 and 9 yo). Our pace was not fast, but climbing over the snow near the top and having lunch at surprise lake made it a great time. The snow is not bad. The views are incredible throughout.

1 month ago

We hiked this on June 14th. Awesome hike! Both lakes are still froze over and the last mile you will be hiking through 5 ft of snow. You can make it, but trek lightly to snow on top of the snow pack. We hiked from Taggart Lake trail head. 15 mile round trip and it took us 6.5 hrs. Happy Trails!

hiking
1 month ago

June 10th hike. Fantastic. Small patches of snow at 3.2 miles. Complete snow cover for the last mile to amphitheater lake. No crampons needed.

1 month ago

Did this hike on June 3rd! Ran into snow at about 3 1/2 miles, soon after branching off of Garnet Canyon Trail up towards the lakes. The last mile up to the lake was slow going as the snow continued to get deeper and it was slick. Hike was very doable wearing boots and using trekking poles, crampons made it even better! The lakes are still frozen but starting to thaw around the edges and you could see the beautiful blue/opal water! The Mountain View’s are stunning! It took us 7 hours total including rest breaks, lunch and just taking in the views.

hiking
1 month ago

Attempted this hike, unable to make it to the lakes due to high snow pack. Too slippery and we forgot our cramp-ons. Extra traction would be a must!

1 month ago

We did this hike may 30th!! took us 7 hours start to finish. The last couple miles up to the lakes was covered with snow but other people's tracks made it easy to know where the trail was. We only made it to surprise lake (which was iced over) because it was sooo cold up there we couldn't imagine another 100 yards to amphitheatre lake. It was hard but very rewarding!!!

hiking
1 month ago

My wife and I hiked this trail in July 2017. It is strenuous, but if you are an avid hiker and you only have time to do one hike in the Tetons, DO THIS ONE. For a beautiful little detour before or after you see the lakes, when you get to top of the trail, right before you get to Surprise Lake, take a turn off to the left and climb the stack of rocks. It was by far the best view of the trip.

1 month ago

Fantastic view and a great incline with lots of wildlife

8 months ago

Strenuous hike with a well-earned reward of two lakes and beautiful scenery at the top. We had a real surprise at Surprise Lake when a mama black bear and her two cubs joined us at the lake for their afternoon drink!

camping
8 months ago

Gnar

hiking
9 months ago

This hike was worth the challenge of getting to the top to see surprise and amphitheater lake. We started this hike out planning to go off trail to view Delta Lake, but it was snowing and making it up the boulder fields was almost impossible and too dangerous. We decided to hike up almost 3 more miles to surprise and amphitheater lake and we are glad we did. Before we went on this hike we read that black bears were known to be spotted very close to the trail. We encountered one adult black bear and then one cub an hour later who came right up to my dad. Make sure to bring some bear spray!

9 months ago

22 Sep it was getting snowy to the point where I turned back because I wasn't properly equipped. Looks like there was more snow last night so snowy for the 23rd. Lots of berries on the slopes so watch out for bears and make sure to carry spray and bells.

hiking
10 months ago

It was my first time in Grand Teton NP and this was definitely the highlight. A hard hike with the elevation and switchbacks but absolutely worth it. Great views on the way up and the lakes were spectacular. Plenty of snow in mid-July at the top and the lake was still half covered in ice. The scenery surrounding Amphitheater was awe inspiring. An afternoon storm rolled in on the way down and we got hit with rain, hail and some lightning but still had fun.

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Hard hike but very pretty!

hiking
10 months ago

Four of us hit the trail at 8:30 am and made our way up the initial ascent quickly. Just after the fork for Valley Trail, we encountered a young black bear in the middle of the trail, but he ran off when we got closer as a group. My wife and I hiked ahead and managed to take a wrong turn towards Garnet Canyon (looks beautiful), which added ~1.5 miles to our trip, but we made it back and caught up with the others before reaching Surprise/Amphitheater Lakes. We were thankful to have started early since it was HOT, hazy (smoke coming in from the north), and packed later in the day. We spent an hour up top and took our time -- got back to the car close to 3 pm.

10 months ago

considering how hot and uphill this trail is, it was definitely a good idea for us to start early. the lakes at the top are totally worth the hard climb. we also saw a brown black bear eating berries close to the trail.

hiking
11 months ago

Really good hike if you're looking to get a good work out in. The incline is no joke! The lakes at the end are breathtaking. Very nice to sit, relax, and enjoy a sandwich and a snack or two!

hiking
11 months ago

The trail passes through lots of meadows thick with wildflowers, sagebrush flats, rich forest, and some naked rock, giving a nice, varied experience. The hike is strenuous. The last 1.5 mi of switchbacks are not shown on Google Maps. I heard there is a path to Delta Lake from this trail (my intended, moderately difficult destination), but the map at the trailhead didn't show it. What I thought could be its trail was closed for revegetation. So I continued to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes ignorant of the elevation ahead. But it was worth it. Beautiful lakes set in the mountains. Some snow mounds were still left in the meadows alongside the trail by the lake (now in early August). Saw a black bear twice in forest alongside the trail.

11 months ago

Long uphill climb with tons of switchbacks. Not technical at all, gets monotonous. The views throughout are gorgeous though as are the lakes to make it worth while.

11 months ago

Stunning views, worth every switchback and sore muscles! When at Surprise Lake, make sure to go around the lake to get an amazing view of the valley!

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