Backpack Amethyst Basin
Utah › Christmas Meadows Trailhead
Added by Conor Barry
Enjoy incredible scenery, rugged terrain, and Ostler Peak, which towers above a classic alpine meadow. There is also excellent fishing in the meadow below the lake.
Directions: The trail leaves from the Christmas Meadows Trailhead.
From Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (US 150) turn on Christmas Meadows Rd. The campground and trailhead are around 3.5 miles down the road dirt road. The road is suitable for low clearance vehicles.
Trip Length: 6 miles each way + optional day-hikes.
Total Elevation Gain: 1,900' to the lake (It's only 1,500 to the camp at the meadow)
Leaving from the Christmas Meadows area at 8,800 feet, the trail meanders through wildflower-filled grasses gaining little elevation. The first two and a half miles of the hike go down quickly. Once you hit the fork in the trail (make sure to stay left at the fork to stay on the amethyst basin trail. Although, it's clearly signed) things get a little steep. The trial gains over 500'+ in the next half mile or so with the remaining elevation gain spread out over the next two miles. The cascades alongside the trail keep your mind off your burning calves, however.
Once you reach Amethyst Meadow, the large alpine meadow below Ostler Peak, find your campsite for the weekend. There are plenty of previously used sites in the woods surrounding the meadow so there's no need to make a new one. The camping at the meadow is better than the camping at the lake just a little bit further up the trail. From camp you can watch the evening light scrape the face of Ostler Peak as the sun disappears below the horizon. Make sure you bring your camera because this place is a photographer's paradise.
The following day there are a few day-hike options available. You can head up the trail to Amethyst Lake, or one of the other smaller lakes in the area. If you're feeling ambitious, you can even try for the summit of Ostler Peak. There's no defined trail to the summit so route finding skills and a map are needed.
The fishing in the small stream that cuts through amethyst meadow is quite good. The fish are all pretty small but they seem to be very hungry. You'll have to be a little sneaky if you want to catch any, though, The water is shallow and slow-moving so the fish can easily see you standing on the bank.
If you're a photographer, you might be interested in packing a tripod to get some images of the night sky. The night skies are very dark and full of stars.
When you're all done enjoying the amazing-ness that Amethyst Basin has to offer, tear down camp and head back out the same way you came in.
Overnight Gear: (This varies a lot depending on your style of spending the night, but this is what I pack)
- Sleeping bag (it gets pretty cold at night so bring a warm one)
- Sleeping pad
- Stove and cookware
- Water filter
- Surdy shoes
- Down jacket
- Waterproof jacket and pants
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Fishing, Hiking
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ReviewsLeave a Review
Did this hike on 8/22/16. This is definitely a must do hike in the Uintas. Did this as a day hike. But, wish I would have taken the planning to back pack into amethyst basin and make it an overnight trip because this place is truly magical. Started at about 6:30am and got up to amethyst lake at 9:30 ish. That was with a lot of stops and sight seeing along the way up. Amethyst lake is amazing. A lot bigger than I thought it would be. The water, especially with the sun shining, is an intense clear, aqua color. Set up some hammocks on the east side and relaxed for a bit. On the way down we decided to explore over to Ostler lake. From what I had researched, there is no actual trail to it. So, we bush whacked our way there and back from the trail. I am surprised there is no official trail to Ostler lake because it is a pretty lake. Not as awesome as amethyst, but with Ostler peak in the background, Ostler lake makes for some pretty sweet photos. My brother and I also took a dive in Ostler. It was probably the coldest water I have ever been in but definitely worth it. This hike has it all. Definitely take the time to do an overnight trip. Starting off at the amazing Christmas meadows, following a river, seeing a few water falls on the way and amazing peaks keeps your mind off the burning legs. There really isn't much difficulty to this hike other than the 0.5 miles right after the turn off to amethyst lake.
Magic In The Uintas
This place is absolutely magical. We backpacked in and stayed at the Meadows and from the moment we arrived, it was a transcendent experience. The hike isn't too hard but does gain a lot of elevation. With that said, there was not a dull moment on the hike. The two lakes up there are crystal clear with small trout in each of them. The weather was a little bit volatile with sporadic rain and wind but overall, the area is amazing.
Went in June, tornadoes of flies everywhere. Lots of people had camped there the weekend before we got there. Human poop around the campground. Aside from that, It's really pretty, good for exploring and going up to the peak which has some rocky and steep spots so be careful.
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