Decent camp 2 hours Christmas Meadows?


Jun 14, 2012
My son and I plan on taking our first (ever) backpacking trip this coming weekend. Still not 100% decided between either BR24 or Kermsuh lake. But either one, we'll be starting from Christmas Meadows along the Stillwater fork.

I'm not sure what time Fri. afternoon/evening we'll be hitting the trail. But, it might be late enough we won't have time to make it to either above named destination before dark. And this being our first trip, we won't be setting any speed records and I want plenty of time to select and pitch a comfy camp in daylight.

So... My question is, what are the prospects of finding said comfy camp, say two or three hours into the trail? Going to either destination?

Looking at the map I see meadows below BR24, but by the time we got there, we'd practically be at the lake. Still, if we can make those meadows in a couple hours and have plenty of time to camp for the night, vs pushing it to find camp before dark at the lake, I'd be fine stopping there and having only a short trip to BR24 the next morning. If going to Kermsuh, I see meadows about halfway between the Amethyst and Kermsuh trail junctions that might be in a good spot to lay over for the night?

All thoughts and input will be appreciated!

Ahhh yes. I've been in your shoes a time or two. Here's what I know...

Between the trailhead and the turn for Amethyst Basin there are several sites. The early sites are well off the main trail to the south in Christmas Meadows. Just keep an eye out for faint spurs or outlying stands of trees. I've often seen people camped in them hiking through. But those aren't very far in, maybe 1.5-2 miles.

There is a site right at the junction for Amethyst Basin. Instead of turning left to go up the hill, turn right down towards the river.

If you're heading for Kermsuh, it will be another mile or more before the next decent sites. There are okay ones along the trail but the best are on the far end of the first big meadow the trail passes through after crossing Ostler Creek. There are couple sites here but the best is on the far end of the meadow on the left side of the trail. That site is a mile or less from the turnoff to Kermsuh.

If you make it up into Amethyst but don't go all the way to BR-24, I've noticed a site right as the trail passes back into the forest after the first large clearing at the top of the steep climbing.

If you go up into Kermsuh, there is a killer site in the trees to the right in the first huge meadow but before the last climb up to the lake. Honestly, it's about as good as camping at any of the lakes. The stream winds and meanders through that meadow and makes for awesome fishing. Couldn't keep them off my line...
Tremendously helpful. Thank you!

I always prefer keeping it loose and unstructured as possible. This much specific beta will make it MUCH easier to just play it by ear once we get going. I suppose I probably ought to decide which lake we are going to ahead of time, but with all the options you have just laid out, knowing approximately how far to the next good spot, we won't need to decide on a stopping point until we feel like it.


Now I'm agonizing over which destination to choose.

I think I'd prefer the likely greater chance of solitude going to Kermsuh. And I like your meadow camping suggestion Nick.

But I have a hunch my 17 year old would prefer camping at a lake. And the possibly cushier camping at BR24 vs. right at Kermsuh. And also might vote for possibly faster/easier fishing at Amethyst. Not that he actually gets a vote :D.

I think we'd both really like to just "see" Amethyst.

The above list looks like it leans towards BR24.

But I really do value solitude.

Ahhhh... Decisions... Decisions...

I assume that the runoff this year has already come and gone, but I've always chickened out every time I've tried to cross Ostler Creek in June.

Here's a picture of Ostler on June 21, 2008.


But I can also be a wimp sometimes! :)

But as Nick said, I've always found nice sites on Stillwater or up near Amethyst.

Have fun!

I think we're going to have a ton of fun. I have been accumulating gear for months now. Last night we set out all our stuff, went through the checklist I created and loaded up our packs for the first time. We're both stoked to get going! Only bummer is no fire, was planning to grill fish over coals, now I have to carry a frying pan :D.

Nice! That info is helpful to me as well. I want to do Amethyst in a couple weeks, but was thinking of camping at the trailhead Friday night and starting the next morning because I didn't know there were campsites so early in the trail. Now I'm thinking why not start hiking Friday night, camp in one of the early sites and resume in the morning. Thanks Nick!