Explore to do - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

to do Map
VIEW FULL MAP

We did this hike from the end of the gravel road. We hiked approximately 1.5 miles in to the narrows and then returned. Absolutely fantastic rock formations. The kids loved it. Plenty of room for them to run and play. Only moderately trafficked.

I did this a couple years ago and it was gorgeous!!

Anyone know if we can still hike it now in October?? I know it says best through September but does that mean it’s closed off?

This is much shorter if you drive down the unpaved road. I drive a Prius so low clearance vehicles can make it down the road. Parking is a bit difficult so everyone parked along the road. The narrows aren’t that narrow at all but it’s amazing nonetheless.

Awesome trail. My first slot canyon and it did not disappoint. Went about 4 miles in to the arch...pretty dang awesome and no super hard spots.

Nice trail but not much diversity.

camping
4 months ago

Loved this hike. Camped at Ostler lake, and hiked to Amethyst the next day. The scenery was spectacular. I agree it was well over 11.7 miles. From the bottom, to Ostler we clocked 6.5 miles. The next day it was about 1.7 miles to Amethyst Lake which was spectacular. Definitely worth the trip.

It’s really irritating to see people give this hike 3 stars for the sole reason that it is far away and short! This forum is meant to describe the hike. This hike is incredible and people commenting about the drive should get zero credence as a hiker. Go exercise in Disney world and save us the time of reading your nonsensical reviews that mean nothing.

hiking
4 months ago

Nice hike, but a long day trip. I agree with the prevailing sentiment that it is absolutely 13 miles, not 11.7. I was actually trying to go to Kermsuh lake, but went left when I should have gone straight. I didn't see any signs, but I have screwed up before. For the last mile, I am not sure what is represented by the track shown here on AllTrails. Any trail matching that track is very subtle. The obvious main trail brings you right by the small, unnamed triangular-shaped lake at about 5.5 miles. There are well constructed campsites here, and then it is another mile and some significant additional elevation to Amythest Lake.

The whole hike is scenic, passing through forests, meadows and along a running stream with waterfalls. The lake is absolutely beautiful. No mosquitos at all right now. The elevation gain comes in fits and spurts, with parts that seem almost flat and other parts that are strenuous. The first 2.5 miles from Christmas Meadows requires some care to avoid mud in places and is lots of up and down, which is fine at the start, but a drag when you are coming back at the end. There is a sign at the trailhead warning that the trail is obstructed by downed trees. Not to worry, because the trail elves have cleaned them all up, bless their souls.

I don't think there is a clear trail to Osler Lake, but it might be fun to find it another time. People climb up to Osler Peak from there, which looks to be an adventure way beyond my comfort level.

Get here early to avoid the heat and the crowds. Imagine a cave with a REAL tall sun roof. Take plenty of water as there are only seasonal springs in winter and early spring. Not technically hard; just a long walk in the heat if you're not early. Moonlight doesn't help as the cliff walls are too high.

backpacking
4 months ago

Very beautiful lake, with many scenic places along the way.
Went backpacking in mid July there and the temps were very moderate. The trail was definitely muddy in many places, but using logs, rocks and higher trails made it easy to keep my feet dry. When you arrive, there is a very small lake on your right about 1/4 mile away from the actual lake. If I had to do it again I would have camped there. The bugs at Amethyst Lake were absolutely terrible, it was mostly flies and gnats, not many mosquitoes. The lower lake or pond had no bugs, and better trees for hammocks. It's not as scenic, but better a better spot to lay down the fort.
It gets pretty steep after the fork, but definitely doable.
Beautiful place, would do again.

backpacking
4 months ago

Great hike and destination. It can be a day hike or overnight backpacking trip.

If coming from the Kamas side pick up your recreational pass at the Chevron in Kamas or if you have exact change at the spot where the old ranger station was. It’s a couple miles up the canyon.

If hiking to the meadow below Amethyst Lake (to the east of Ostler Lake) then I think the mileage of about 11.5 miles is correct. If hiking further to Amethyst Lake then I believe that’s at or around 12.5 miles.

It’s about 2.5 miles from the parking lot to the turn off for Amethyst lake. The sign is located on a tree at the fork. At this point and for about the next mile it’s fairly steep and rocky. After that it’s a fairly consistent rise with small bouts of steeper grades.

The trail is muddy at many spots. Generally with well positioned steps you can get through without any issue. I hear mosquitoes and bugs can be a problem but our late August trip had none.

As a reminder, it does get cool/cold at night and storms are known to roll through even if the day has looked great. We had bouts of heavy rain, lightning and thunder even though it had looked clear and the forecast was calling for good weather. Always be prepared in the Uintas.

I camped at Amethyst lake but still hiked Ostler peak. If you want great views it’s worth the effort. Most climb the north ridge from Ostler lake and I would recommend this. I decided to go up the main chute on this mountain. As you reach the top I exited the chute to the left and then climbed up to the saddle. Took the west side of the peak to summit.

very beautiful and very well trafficked.

backpacking
5 months ago

This trail is much tougher than some of these reviews would have you believe. Check the elevation charts and you'll see what I mean. It's also the only time I've backpacked in the High Uintas and had to deal with multiple large groups of campers. That said, there is a reason it's so popular and busy. The mountains, lakes, and meadows are absolutely stunning. I prefer solitude, so I'm not sure if I'd go again, but it's a beauty for sure.

walking
5 months ago

It’s a long way out of the way for a really small hike. But the rock formations are super cool and the kids spent an hour climbing all over the rocks.

backpacking
5 months ago

Definitely worth pushing that last mile or so past Ostler Lake to Amethyst. The water is strikingly blue! Temps are prime this time of year, plenty of great places to set up camp!

backpacking
5 months ago

Great backpacking trail/lake. Heavy use, so please make sure you pack in/pack out. The ranger at the trailhead told us open fires due to the “Extreme” fire danger rating. Unfortunately the people around us didn’t get the memo. The pit next to us re-sparked with the wind- luckily my friend and I were there to put it out.

Closer to 7 miles each way. The water spots along the way were my favorite. The steep part is steep going up, an slippery going down. Saw 2 moose (at separate times). Weather was mild and didn’t go below 44°.

This is a great Trail if it wasn't for the middle part being so Steep and Rocky I would give it 5 stars.

backpacking
6 months ago

Amethyst Lake is a great overnight backpacking destination. You can do it as a day hike, but why hurry. As others have noted horses and dogs are allowed. There is plenty of water along the route so you will not need to carry more than 1L (and a good water filter or alternative water treatment). Wildflowers are blooming everywhere. It rained on Saturday afternoon and evening. I checked the temp at 4:00 AM Sunday and it was 39 degrees. So remember at elevation the temps are vastly different than in the SLC valley :).

There is only one section of the trail that gains elevation quickly and is in poor condition due to the loose rock. This section of trail follows the creek (I think it is the outflow from Amethyst Lk) with amazing waterfalls and water slides. When you hit the top there is a gravel bar with a pool of water perfect for hydration and cooling off before beginning the gradual climb to the lakes.

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike. The view of the peaks over the meadow about 5.5 miles in is really something. Make sure you keep going past the first smaller lake! I agree with other reviewers that the trail would be a bit nicer without all the horse "remains" all over the trail, but such is life.

hiking
6 months ago

pulling up to a full parking lot and parking about as far away as you can get, this wasnt the solitude i was looking for. However, many reviews recommend camping below the lake and i guess that's what most did. I found myself alone on the east side of the lake, right next to a spring that fed it. There are plenty of places to hide out from the wind at the lake, but its the wind that keeps the mosquitoes away. Around 7 or 8 though, the wind stopped and the bugs were gone for the night. I loved my spot but one thing I did not consider, being so close to the east rock face, getting sunlight in the morning comes really late and I had frost over most my stuff. The trail would be much nicer without horses

walking
6 months ago

This place was absolutely amazing! One of the reasons we went to Vernal in the first place. Took us about an hour to get there from Vernal but totally worth it.
The sandstone structures that were created completely by nature were absolutely breathtaking. There are markers to help you find specific formations that have been named, but it looked like some of them had been broken. Not sure if this was from vandalism or natural causes.
There was a restroom out there, but I don't know if it's open all the time or just in the summer. It was open when we went.
I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who doesn't mind the drive. Worth it!

A mini sized version of Goblin Valley. Fun place to see but kind of a drive. We spent less than an hour here. I bet this place would be incredible during a sunset.

One of my favorite hikes in Capital Reef. Very easy and very scenic.

hiking
7 months ago

This hike was awesome, however it was a little challenging for me as a fairly new hiker. Most of the challenge for us was a later (1:30 pm) start and due to some off-trail exploration, we were pushed for time to finish the trail before sundown. Overall the trail was well-marked with cairns although we did lose the trail for about 15 minutes on the ascent. There was some scrambling up to the top but it really wasn’t that bad. I’d recommend an earlier start so you can fully enjoy the hike unless you’re a super fast hiker! Great views at the top!

hiking
9 months ago

Cottonwood Wash - maybe Cottonwood Slot Canyon would be a better name. A Ranger at Capitol Reef told us about this amazing hike.
I am a little unsure of where the start of this trail is. At the Visitor Center, we were told to park right off Notom Road where there is a small sign for Cottonwood Wash and an unpaved parking lot & that it would be about a mile in before you hit the slot canyon. We started off walking from there down the Designated Route (for off road vehicles). When we were about 1/3 of a mile down the road, the pick-up truck who came in right after us came driving down the road. I decided to go back & drive my (4 wheel drive) truck. As I am not an experienced off-road driver, I went as far as I felt comfortable, which was about a mile & I parked on the side of the dirt road. It was still at least 1/3 of a mile down the road before the road ends & just the regular wash begins, and then maybe another mile after that before you actually get into the slot part of the hike. Then- it is sooo good. You will need to be a bit agile to climb your way through. It was the first hike ever that my 9 & 11 year old kids were having an easier (and more fun) of a time then I was. We went in as far as we could until you hit a wall that requires technical climbing & ropes. Even with cutting off about a mile of the dirt road, All Trails tracked us around 6 miles (and my Garmin at 6.2), but being in a Canyon, the tracking is off. We spent almost 4 1/2 hours hiking/climbing/scampering about.

hiking
10 months ago

Here are some details I think you should know about this hike. The drive from Torrey to the trail head takes about 90 minutes and is faster coming from the east side up the Burr trail switchbacks. It took a lot longer on the west side. The 4WD road from to turn off to the trail head was fun. I had a Tahoe and didn't scrape, but anything lower in clearance would have had a problem. The walk in the wash is kind of a sludge. Nothing special, the cool aspect of this hike is looking up at the rock formations. You wont' see rock formations like this on any other hike in Utah. As far as the 'scary' parts...specifically the climb out of the wash, just have good traction and make every step secure. I never felt nervous, my youngest (10) had no problem. There are plenty of cairns, just pay attention to them and you'll have no problem staying on the trail. Between cairns, footprints and a map, you'll be fine. I thoroughly enjoyed the hike, but have been on better ones in Zion, Arches, Escalante.

Amazing rock formations, highly recommended

backpacking
Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Why, oh WHY is noone talking about how dangerous this trail is? With a 30 pound pack on, I was legitimately scared and decided to turn back, for two reasons: (1) According to my GPS map, there is a large variance in distance and elevation between where the trail should be, and where I was, to the point where I thought the cairns were for a different trail, and (2) the sheer drops in the slickrock and cliffs, mixed with sometimes loose rocks that you're depending on for hand and foot holds, made for a very dangerous experience especially with a pack on. Location wise, I went clockwise at the split, and decided to turn around at pretty much the northern most point. I thought if the trail DID continue, I couldn't see how it would get past the cliffs to the east of me since they were SHEER cliffs, so at that point I decided to turn around. I'd recommend having a buddy to tether to, it's that nerve-wracking. To get my point across, I'm not a scardy-cat but I do have my limits (I've ridden my track-bike around Daytona International Raceway at 184mph, dragging a knee around corners, but I felt this trail was way more dangerous than that.

backpacking
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We did this as a one night backpacking trip, but could definitely be explored in a day hike or longer trip if you wanted. In November we only saw two other people the entire time we were out there. It's not marked very well, so be prepared with maps, compasses, etc. If you don't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle you will have to park farther out.

Load More