Backpack to Ryder Lake

Utah Christmas Meadows Trailhead

Added by Sam Watson

  • Amazing mountain and lake views
  • Great lakeside campsites
  • Photographing and fishing opportunities
  • 18 mile roundtrip hike with 2000' elevation change

Ryder Lake is accessed via the Stillwater Trail, beginning at the Christmas Meadows Trailhead off of Mirror Lake Highway. The trail heads due south from Christmas Meadows along the Stillwater River. It winds through lodgepole pine forests and skirts alpine meadows, gradually gaining elevation.

After 3 miles, the trail forks. Take the right fork, as the left leads to Amethyst Lake (another popular hiking and backpacking destination). Another 1.5 miles later, the trail forks again. This time, take the left fork (the right fork leads to Kermsuh lake). Both junctions are well-marked with posted wooden signs. The trail continues south for another 1.5 miles before slowly turning southwest. The trail ascends a steep gulch for 0.5 miles, before plateauing for the remaining 1.5 miles.

Many small lakes dot the landscape before reaching Ryder Lake. Hikers will know when they reach Ryder Lake, however, as it is far larger and more prominent than those already passed. It features many campsites around its shore.

Those interested in fishing (with a fishing permit, of course) will find many opportunities to fish at the lake, as well as along the Stillwater river on the hike up. The High Uintas are notorious for their fickle weather, so be sure to bring warm clothes and rain gear. A camera is also a must for capturing the amazing alpine landscapes, as well as wildflowers and wildlife that are present during summer months. The trail features several stream and marsh crossings, so be prepared to get your feet wet. Amethyst Lake attracts the majority of visitors from Christmas Meadows, so expect plenty of solitude around Ryder Lake.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleepingbag
  • Water (water filter)
  • Food
  • Warm clothes
  • Camera
  • Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
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Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



18 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2000 Feet



Dog Friendly

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Fun hike

Fun hike, I did it as a day hike with my dog and it was pretty fun. There were a few water crossings but I didn't need to get my feet wet. There is a lot of mud along the trail so bring towels or blankets to keep the mud out of your car.

4 months ago

9 months ago

I went with a group of kids and it was really sweet we went swimming in it and it was freaking cold but freaking cool

9 months ago

Added by Sam Watson

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