Backpack to Amethyst Lake

Utah Christmas Meadows Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    13 Miles

Cliff Jumping

13 mile roundtrip trek to Amethyst Lake. Easily accessible trailhead. Great views of meadows meadows and lakes during the hike. Amethyst offers up cliff jumping, swimming, and fishing. Duration: Overnight.

It all starts at Christmas Meadows Trailhead. This trailhead is easily accessible and quick to get to because its just a couple miles off the mirror lake highway. If you are heading from Salt Lake City, head north on I-80 to Evanston, from Evanston take highway 150 south about 33 miles to a turnoff that has a sign saying Christmas Meadows. Follow this dirt trail about 4 miles to the trailhead. Any car can make it on this road as long as its not too wet.

The first 2.5 miles of the trail are easygoing. You'll wander through the valley and probably run into some fly fisherman, day hikers, and moose, which are known to frequent this area. At the junction you will go left and start heading up up up. You will gain some gnarly elevation for a couple miles but don't forget to look around every once in a while. Picture takers can get some really good landscape and panoramics along this portion of the trail.

Around the 5.5 mile mark you will get to lake br-24. This is a great place to basecamp to explore the basin. If you head northwest 0.5 miles from here up the hill, you will come upon Ostler Lake. If you want more solitude, this is a great place to camp. It's a beautiful lake and offers some good fishing.

If you are a photographer, then a sunset picture on this lake with the peak reflecting off the lake, is the way to go. There is camping at the lake and all along the hillside heading up though, there is no trail, so its best to have a compass and map. Just remember to camp a couple hundred feet away from any trail. If you keep on the trail past lake br-24, another mile or so and you'll be at Amethyst Lake. The meadow right before the lake is where you will be rewarded with an incredible view. The lake sits high and at the southernmost tip of the basin so you don't see the lake until your almost on it. Camping will be along the north side past the meadow. This lake is perfect for swimming, fishing or soul searching. You'll take a lot of pictures here as the scenery will entice you.

Things to keep in mind if you backpack here: there is an entrance fee to the park for overnight stays. There is a ranger station on the road to Christmas Meadows Trailhead. This is black bear territory so hang your food as well. Squirrels have also been known to get into packs.

If you are heading back Salt Lake way, you will pass through Evanston. I don't know of any great places to eat, though I'm sure there are some, but there is a huge liquor store there with great variety. This might especially appeal to Utahns who are used to 3.2% beer.

Pack List

  • $ for overnight parking
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camera
  • Water filter
  • All your other backpacking gear
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Overall rating: 

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Did this hike on 9/1/17. The weather was perfect. Plenty of people do this as a day-hike, but why not camp? It's a great place to disconnect and recharge. Bugs were not a problem over Labor Day weekend.

20 days ago
20 days ago

Overall hike with lots of views and vistas. There is seepage onto the trail but once you pass the steep climb at mid way it's smooth sailing. Bring bug spray, the mosquitoes travel Inc armadas. I'd do it again, without the heavy pack which was a challenge on the steep stuff.

3 months ago
3 months ago

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.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

James Troxell

I climb, I backpack, I ride. @troxclimbsrocks

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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