This ten-mile round trip is a Teton classic. Note that, while 10-miles is not long, this run does gain--and descend--3,000 vertical feet. It's all uphill for the first five miles and all downhill for the second half.
What Makes It Great
From the parking lot, the trail winds 1.7 miles, climbing gradually to a junction with the Valley Trail. While you might be tempted to jump onto the Valley Trail--it's much flatter-- stay on the trail to the right. At 3.1 miles, you'll hit another junction. This time your choices are Garnet Canyon (left) or the two lakes (right). Turn right, and about a dozen switchbacks and 900 vertical feet later, you'll finally be there. Surprise is the lower of the two lakes.
The trail up to Amphitheater Lake is less obvious, mostly because there are about a dozen variations. Amphitheater Lake is carved into a high cirque on Disappointment Peak. You can continue up to Disappointment Peak via a poorly-marked scramble up grassy ledges above Amphitheater Lake's southern shore. This is the most difficult and exposed part of the trail, but the views from the top of the East Ridge and face of the Grand Teton are spectacular.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail is great for those looking to get in a good hike (to Surprise Lake) or a good challenge (to Amphitheater Lake).
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking area is reached by turning west into Lupine Meadows, just south of the Jenny Lake area. The road dead-ends into the trail you want.
Camping at the lakes themselves is not allowed, but camping is allowed at Delta Lake, one drainage to the north and accessed from one of the switchbacks above the trail's fork from the Garnet Canyon Trail.
Ask for more explicit directions to Delta Lake when you get your backcountry camping permit.