Backpack Amethyst Basin

Christmas Meadows Trailhead

Distance

12 Miles

Elevation Gain

1900 Feet

Activities

Fishing, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Nearby Lodging

From $300/night

The Cliff Lodge

Sandy, Utah

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Highly Trafficked, but Absolutely Stunning!

The beauty of anywhere in the Uintas is always a 5/5 stars, but the amount of people up Amethyst Basin was kind of a bummer for somewhere this far from civilization. Expect even more people if it's a holiday weekend like Labor Day. And there were a ton of barking dogs running around ruining the peace and quiet the whole time. But definitely an awesome experience if that kind of thing doesn't bother you.

High Uintas Wilderness continues to Amaze!

We backpacked to Amethyst Basin on 9/1/17. It was hot in SLC with zero chances of rain, so the Uinta's were packed. I estimate there were people in approximately 50 campsites, but the basin is large with lots of great campsites, so it didn't feel crowded. Bugs were non-existent. @Isaiah Ort - there is an overnight fee of $6 for stays of 1-3 days, $12 for stays of 7-14 days, or $45 for an annual pass, or free if you have a National Parks Pass.

Permit?

DO you need any sort of permit to camp overnight?

Distance

12 Miles

Elevation Gain

1900 Feet

Activities

Fishing, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Summer, Autumn

Type

Out-and-Back

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike to Ostler Peak in the High Uintas

Adventure

Backpack to Ryder Lake

Adventure

Backpack to Amethyst Lake

Adventure

Camp at Christmas Meadows in the Uinta National Forest

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