Kermsuh Lake pronounced 'kurm-soo' is one of the least visited areas accessed from the popular Christmas Meadows Trailhead. Nestled high in the West Basin of the Stillwater Fork it stands alone with nothing more than a few shallow ponds in the vicinity. This remoteness makes it less appealing than the more popular Amethyst Basin and Middle Basin areas accessed from the same trailhead. But for those seeking solitude it is an excellent option. This hike is best done as a long day hike or an overnight backpacking trip and is only recommended for more experienced hikers.
The hike to Kermsuh Lake begins at the Christmas Meadows Trailhead (40.822571, -110.80123), just east of Highway 150 on the north slope of the Uintas. The trailhead is best reached from Evanston, Wyoming but can also be accessed from Kamas, Utah.
- From I-80 in Evanston, drive south on Highway 150 for approximately 31.3 miles to the signed turnoff for Christmas Meadows on the east side of the road.
- Continue for 4.3 miles on the gravel road, following the signs for the Christmas Meadows Campground. The trailhead is located about 200 yards beyond the campground at the end of the road.
The trailhead has two parking areas. The lower area is for general parking and the upper area is reserved for those with trailers. There are vault toilets available at the trailhead.
NOTE: The Christmas Meadows Trailhead is part of the Mirror Lake Recreation Fee Area. You must display a recreation pass in your vehicle to park at the trailhead. Purchase passes at any of the self-serve kiosks in the area, the Forest Service office, or from some local retailers.
From the Christmas Meadows trailhead, begin hiking down the trail at the south end of the parking area. For the few miles, the trail meanders in and out of the trees as it skirts along the side of Christmas Meadows and the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River. At approximately 3.0 miles, the signed (but easily missed) junction to Amethyst Basin appears on the left. Shortly after is the first river crossing of the hike at the Ostler Fork River. There have been various makeshift bridges here over the years, but they have repeatedly been wiped out by high runoff. Be prepared to get your feet wet, but you might get lucky and have something to cross on. Do not attempt to cross the stream during dangerous high water conditions.
Beyond the river crossing, the trail winds through the trees, climbing gradually for about 2.0 more miles before arriving at the signed junction to Kermsuh Lake. Turn right here and continue about 100 yards until the trail arrives at the Stillwater Fork River. There is typically a log spanning the river here, but it is quite high and some might prefer to ford the river rather than risk falling from the log. The crossing in regular conditions is not difficult. Once again, use caution if the water is running high.
After crossing the river, continue hiking up the trail as it climbs over 600 feet in elevation before reaching an open meadow. Fisherman may want to take a break here and try their luck in the meandering stream. The trail can be quite difficult to follow through the meadow, but stay to the right (south) side and you should be able to pick it up in spots. There is one river crossing right where the flat water of the upper meadow starts to flow downhill, but there are plenty of rocks that make it possible to keep your feet dry.
Continue past the meadow as the trail starts to climb the remaining 400 feet to the outlet on the east side of Kermsuh Lake, approximately 7.5 miles from the Christmas Meadows Trailhead.
Backpackers will have the best luck finding campsites on the south side of the lake where there is a bit more shelter from storms. Fishing is usually good at Kermsuh Lake for Brook Trout.
If you have the time, there are a handful of small lakes and ponds throughout the basin. One of the most scenic is a small tarn located directly south of Kermsuh Lake, nestled at the base of a rocky alpine cirque. There are no fish in this unnamed lake, but the scenery is more than worth the trip. To reach this small lake, head south following the small stream flowing into Kermsuh Lake.
- Do not camp within 200 feet of water sources or trails.
- Keep dogs under control at all times.
- No littering.
- Pack out trash.
Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the High Uintas. Much of this trail passes through open terrain that may be hazardous if lightning strikes. Seek shelter if a storm approaches.
This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.