Backpacking trip to Surprise Lake

We finally made our first backpacking trip in the Tetons and we decided to make it a shorter trip, but the trail was pretty steep.  It was still an awesome hike up to Surprise Lake. 

Our trip started well with seeing this coyote on our drive in on the dirt road leading to the Lupine Meadow Trailhead.  It felt like a good sign for the trip!  IMG_4681Here’s the view from the trailhead itself.  As we looked up at the mountains above, we couldn’t help but wonder, just how high up that way are we headed.  IMG_4684 The first three miles were familiar to us because we hiked the same trail on our way up to Garnet Canyon, so I didn’t take any pictures along our way.  For those of you who didn’t catch that blog post, check it out here.  At the three mile mark, we hit the junction in the trail where we veered right toward Surprise Lake, instead of heading towards Garnet Canyon. 

We got a little different view of Taggart & Bradley Lakes below.  Still gorgeous!!  IMG_4689As we got closer to Surprise Lake, it was amazing how close we were to the peaks of the Tetons.  From below, they always seem so incredibly tall and insurmountable.  All of a sudden now, it almost seemed like we were able to just walk up to their base!!  This is a pic of Mount Owen at 12928 ft.  IMG_4699Then we finally arrived at our destination.  We hiked right by Surprise Lake and found a campsite to set up at.  Just a few feet from our tent was a beautiful view down into the valley we had hiked up from.  We could just barely see the edge of Jackson Lake far below.  IMG_4703 And closer just below our camping area, we could see the shores of Delta Lake.  Its striking turquoise color is created by minerals funneling into it from the Teton Glacier above which has been ground into a fine flour from the moving ice.  I’d never seen a lake that was quite this color before.  IMG_4704Here’s the view of the peaks that surrounded our campsite.  This is not only Mount Owen, but also the Grand Teton at 13770 ft, and is the tallest of the Teton peaks.  It was quite the nice site to stare at for a while as we relaxed at our site.  IMG_4708Then we headed down to Surprise Lake to relax a bit and filter some water to drink.  We also stuck our tired feet into the cold water.  Ahhhhhhhhh.  IMG_4767

We also walked over to the edge of the lake and the view down into the valley from here was incredible!  This entire area is just so beautiful!!!IMG_4724While we were in this area of the lakes, there were these Clark’s Nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) all around that were yelling and screaming at each other like crazy.  Cute birds though.  IMG_4749

Later we headed up the trail further to Amphitheater Lake.  It took a little bit of convincing to get Sal to check it out then rather than in the morning, but glad we did.  IMG_4753

The morning brought another opportunity to take an amazing photo of Surprise Lake before we headed down the trail.  The water was so still that it just looked like glass!  IMG_4785We ate some breakfast while trying not to get eaten up by the mosquitoes that seemed to  multiply in large numbers overnight!  Then as it looked like the skies were going to open up on us soon, we hit the trail back down.  And we did quickly start getting rained on and then the lightning and thunder started which made me feel a little nervous as we had many open slopes to cross along the way.  It was POURING on us too!!IMG_4805

I was worried that Sal would just be miserable as we were hiking through the rain for so long, but he was able to keep a great attitude and we had a ton of fun!!IMG_4804And then right before getting back to the trailhead, we were rewarded with a huge herd of elk!  And as you can tell in the pic, it was still pouring!  IMG_4811It rained for hours that day! And completely drenched, we decided to stop at a local pizza place for some lunch before we headed back home.  Because it was raining so much, we didn’t stop to eat along the trail as we normally do, so we were starving.  We didn’t care what we looked like!  That first cold beer tasted soooooo good too!!  Happy trails everyone!! 


  1. Thanks for sharing your hikes in these beautiful mountains. Hubby and I hope to be fulltimers next year and Tetons is one place definitely on our list! Perhaps we'll see you on the road or the trail!


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