Amphitheater Lake is one of those lesser-known Beartooth Mountain lakes that deserves an audience.
It’s accessed via one of the best traveled trails in the range, the famed Beaten Path that takes off from the Clark Fork Trailhead outside Cooke City. Take the trail about six miles to Russell Lake, continuing around the east side of the lake.
Just before a footbridge crosses the creek, a well-built trail juts off to the right. It’s an uphill haul from there to Amphitheater Lake (also called Wand Lake on some maps), but only lasts a couple miles.
Some maps show a trail that branches off only halfway around the lake and rapidly climbs. In one reporter’s experience, this results in navigating meandering goat trails on steep sidehills. Stick to the trail just before the bridge.
For the most part, this is plateau country. Towering peaks are replaced by smaller slabs that have their own beauty, and often better navigability.
Amphitheater sits next to an open meadow, framed by cliffs, a layout much like its namesake. One could prattle on all day on the lake shore, with perhaps the stray goat from above stopping to listen. Wildflowers were past their peak in late August, but still ran through the meadow in streaks of color.
For more options nearby, trek on to Marianne Lake or Lake of the Winds. The trail continues to Marianne, but for Lake of the Winds it’s just you and a topo map.
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