Backpacking to Kermsuh Lake, Uintas
Kermsuh Lake is an alpine lake in the High Uintas Wilderness. It sits at an elevation of 10,200 ft, making it the perfect cooler destination while the SLC valley is baking in heat. Kermsuh Lake sits in one of the three basins in Christmas Meadows – Ryder and Amethyst Lake are the other two, more popular lakes.
The trail is very mellow and “easy” for a backpacking trip at only 7 miles and 1,500 ft elevation gain. We camped only one night here, and never saw anyone once we turned off the main Stillwater Trail. The best months to backpack here are July – September, depending on when the trail is dry and the snow is gone. The Mirror Lake Highway gates typically opens Memorial Day Weekend, and closes around Halloween (again, weather dependent). This trail is also very dog friendly, and can be good for fishing.
Keep in mind that the Uintas can get cold at night, and they also get the daily afternoon thunderstorm. When backpacking to any part of the Uintas, be prepared for any kind of weather, and especially, mosquitoes.
From Kamas, UT head East along the Mirror Lake Highway for 50 miles. Turn right at the sign for Christmas Meadows. Drive to the very end of the road, where the trail begins.
Here’s a driving map.
Distance: 14 miles RT
Elevation gain: 1500 ft
Time: 3-4 hours one way
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Maybe, depends on their backpacking experience
The Mirror Lake Highway charges a $6 fee for a 3 day pass. It’s free if you have an annual Mirror Lake Hwy, American Fork Canyon pass, or annual National Park Pass. No permit is required.
I love stopping to take a photo of this sign every time I come here. It’s perfectly posed with the background.
Ready to start hiking!
You’ll cross several streams, but its easy to stay dry by walking on rocks and logs. That’s one thing I never have to worry about with Charlie – carrying a ton of water in the Uintas. There is always water available.
Passing by a corn lily field. There were so many flowers blooming as well!
Another stream crossing. Charlie leads his dad across.
The trail is often muddy, but old wood ramps and rocks help you get across dry.
Pass the official High Uintas Wilderness sign at 2.4 miles.
We moved aside to let three pack horses pass us. That’s one downside to the Uintas – there’s always horse poop on the trails.
At 4.6 miles you’ll reach the Kermsuh Lake trail split. Veer right here. By this point you have only gained 653 ft in elevation.
You’ll cross Stillwater Creek by walking over a very steady log. Shoutout to Waymark Gear Co. for making the best UL Packs! My pack weighed in at 25 lbs for 1 night. Get 10% off your entire backpack order, use the code “GIRLONAHIKE” at checkout here! Charlie sports his Ruffwear Palisades Pack.
After the log crossing, the fun begins. You’ll now begin to hike up a few switchbacks, and gain another 905 ft in elevation by the time you reach the lake. The hard uphill only lasts for about 3/4 of a mile though. Not too bad!
More stream crossings, yay!
Reach this beautiful meadow at 5.7 miles. It’s a little hard to find the trail, so keep an eye out for cairns though this section. The meadow was a little marshy, but not so bad that I felt like I needed to put my water shoes on.
Getting closer. Though it looks hot here, the day time temps only got up to 62F! Such a relief from the hot valley temps. Beware that though its cooler, you can still get a bad sunburn!
Finally after 3 hours even, and 7 miles, we reached Kermsuh Lake! Wow, it’s so pretty!
People on the main trail had warned us how bad the mosquitos were, so we made sure to find an open, windy campsite. We never felt like the bugs were that bad – they came out in the AM/PM but overall I hardly got any bites and Charlie was fine as well. We found this nice campsite with great views all around – this is A-1 Peak.
I can’t get over how pretty this lake it. Best part? We literally never saw anyone at this lake or on the Kermsuh Lake Trail. Win!
Last year Ian bought this Alpaca Pack Raft for one of his trips. It weighs a mere 3.5 lbs, oar included. The Alpaca Pack Rafts are pretty pricey, but are great for floating in high alpine lakes you wouldn’t normally be able to get out in. It’s also sturdy enough for river runs. The material is strong enough to hold Charlie as well, and not pop from his paws.
It was really nice to float in the lake! A-1 Peak towers above us.
We were so surprised that no one else was at this lake on a weekend. It’s a great lake to escape people! Ian tried fishing for awhile, and though we saw a handful jump, he didn’t catch anything. So I would say this isn’t the best fishing lake. There are however, plenty of tent and hammock sites.
Alpenglow over Kermsuh Lake.
Good morning! Sunrise over Hayden Peak! So cool to think that we summited it last summer! Such a fun lake!
East Hayden Peak is above me.
My track via Gaia GPS – the best tracking app! Get your app here for a discount.
Backpacking to Hell Hole Lake, High Uintas
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