The only thing more rewarding than hiking to the summit of a mountain, is hiking to an alpine lake. Lucky for me, there’s plenty of options close by!
Once the snow finally began to melt, it was time to venture East into the Uintas National Forest. Amethyst Lake is located on the Western Side of the Uintas National Forest, on the back side of Ostler peak.
Depending on where you’re coming from in the greater SLC area, you will come South down the Mirror Lake Highway (150) from Evanston Wyoming, or North from Kamas to the Christmas Meadows Campground. There will be a turn off with a sign directing you to "Christmas Meadows Campground". Make sure to stop and pick up a hiking permit at the ranger station, follow the sign to the self-serve permit station ($5 - cash only), or display your National Parks Pass if you have one (this is accepted in lieu of a permit).
Once you arrive at Christmas Meadows Campground, follow the road past the campgrounds, all the way to the end until you reach a parking lot.
The trail is gradual for the first 3 miles as you wander along the Stillwater Fork and riverside meadows. Keep your eyes out, you may see wildlife through here. You’ll make a left at a fork with a clearly labeled wooden sign for Amethyst Lake. This is where the trail kicks up, and quickly start to gain elevation.
The remainder of the trail is moderate-strenuous with elevation gain, and more technical terrain. The trail wanders over streams, alongside Waterfalls, and through beautiful meadows.
Before reaching the final destination of Amethyst Lake, you will reach Ostler Lake (Around 6.5 miles in). Ostler Lake is clear, beautiful, and serves as a great place to set up camp.
If you’re looking to venture past Ostler and make it to Amethyst, cross the river before you make it to Ostler Lake, and head up the trail along the left side of the Lake for another 1.1 miles.
Day Trip v. Backpacking Overnight?
After doing this trail on two different day trips (intending for one to actually be an overnight trip*), I would still recommend just making a day trip of this hike.
*After hauling all of our camp gear up the trail, enjoying some time at the Lake, and setting up camp, we realized how awful the mosquitos are. I’m talking hundreds of mosquitos swarming you, forcing you to stay in your tent because bug spray without deet does not work, can’t enjoy yourself, AWFUL. We made the game time decision to pack our stuff up, head back down, and drove back to Ogden.
Set up camp at Christmas Meadows Campground
Day hike up to the Lake
Bring a hammock and book to set up by the Lake
Distance: ~13 miles
Elevation gain: 2,050 ft.
Time: 6 hours (with 55L overnight packs carrying camping gear)