Updated: Sep 5, 2021
Incredibly, the smoke cleared making for a beautiful day of hiking in Grand Teton National Park! In time for the anniversary of the National Park Service, I made a day trip to the park to explore a series of 4 lakes on the southeast side of the Tetons. Taggart, Bradley, Surprise, and Amphitheater lakes are nestled at the foot of these grand peaks. Ranging from about 6500-9500 ft. in elevation, these lakes are remarkable reflection pools for the stunning peaks and valleys of this iconic range! For future reference, I would recommend a more direct route to Amphitheater lake by starting at the Lupine Meadow trailhead, but if you are in the mood for the scenic route, start at the Taggart Lake trailhead! Either way, the trail is remarkable.
The hike itself was grueling; not gonna lie, this was one of the hardest hikes I have ever done. Combine the 3000 foot elevation gain (one way) with a nearly 16 mile round-trip hike, and this will wear out even the more experienced hikers. The switchback trails take you up the face of the middle peaks thereby providing unbeatable views of the vast valley below. You can see the whole National park from the trail with Jackson Lake resting in the north and the smaller lakes resting along the forefront of the range. Really, the view is breathtaking! Each lake offers its own share of peace and beauty. Thick forests and high rocky cliffs bound the pristine shores. With the added touch of mountain streams and falls cascading into the fresh alpine lakes, the scene captures your attention and doesn't let go!
A variety of wildlife share the steep trails and meadows of the park. I personally saw deer, chipmunk, squirrel, marten, marmot, pheasant, eagles, and more! Bears are common, so carry bear spray. The wildlife was surprisingly comfortable with my presence. I assume because of the high volume of visitors, the animals have adapted to continue with their lives despite all the attention and practically being wildlife celebrities.
There was a bit of a crowd on parts of the trails, due in part to the fact that admittance to the park was free this particular day. Taggart and Amphitheater lakes were the busiest of the 4. The trail between Taggart and the junction before heading up to Surprise Lake was the quietest section of trail. I even had Bradley Lake to myself in the late afternoon! I can't recommend any particular time to try these hikes, people get there before dawn and leave after dark. Plan on what works best for you, and be prepared for whatever time you end up going.
These peaks are beyond picturesque, plan on bringing a camera and plan on a little extra time to spend simply gazing at the heaven on earth around you! There is something truly special and grand about these mountains. Make the trip to see them at least once, I promise it'll be worth it!
Here are pictures from my hike, enjoy!!