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

Aspen Map
3 days ago

Went Aug 12-13th and stayed at campsite 17. Absolutely a beautiful trail from start to finish. Ran into 2 small groups of hikers on the trail which was amazing. Made you feel like you were the only people on the trail. Plenty of alone time. The hot springs itself was crowded at night...kind of annoying, but the people were nice....the morning however was very quiet and peaceful. We only stayed one night and I don’t think that was enough. I would have liked a full day of relaxing at the hot springs instead of feeling rushed to do the 9 mile hike back to the car. Campsite 17 is about a 20 min hike up to the springs FYI. I heard some negative reviews about the hot springs being dirty and It wasn’t at all. I think the new permit system has really helped cut down on the over crowding. Please be respectful of this beautiful gem! Pack in and pack out!

5 days ago

Beautiful scenery the entire walk and quite spectacular at the top. Considering the low mileage the solitude at the top was surprising.

7 days ago

What a great way to get away into the mountains fast! We drove from Carbondale in the morning on a Wednesday in late August. The 3 of us had the full spectrum of hiking experience, so we hiked to the pace of our slowest friend—and we had a great hike! We parked at the hairpin turn (the upper trailhead) that you encounter before Independence Pass—plenty of parking there and it’s a paved surface. So we did the hike counter-clockwise and reached Independence Lake after 2 hours of very slow hiking. My friend has a heart condition, so we’re happy she could come so far! We hiked to the saddle above the lake and stopped for a half hour as we watched a herd of mountain goats approach and pass us on the trail. We decided to turn back to the car so our friend could rest but my athletic husband decided to trail run the rest of the loop (so he continued on past Lost Man Lake). So we split up and by the time I reached the parking lot for the Lost Man Lake Campground, he was already there (albeit very sweaty). I’m posting this long narrative hoping it shows just how awesome of a trail this is—a short morning hike, a trail run loop, a picnic spot, wildlife viewing, wildflowers even in late August, a camping option, clearly marked trail, and easy access.

This hike was stunning. It was a pretty quick one, it took us two hours to get to the top. The trail itself was easy and well maintained, the hard rating is due to the near constant elevation gain.

Beautiful hike the entire way. It took us 3.5 hours round trip. Well worth the effort. Just a friendly reminder to bring moleskin for blisters!

This trail was amazing. I went two nights 8/6-7. I suggest going two nights. Spending a whole day just relaxing is worth it.

I went up solo. It took Me quite a while to make it up. Start early and take breaks as needed. It’s not a race. The altitude was pretty rough for me. The trail is pretty rocky so bring solid foot wear. Also many parts of the trail are through thick brush. Long sleeves will save some scratches. On the way back down by the ponds past the creek ford I encountered moose. But I came up on the with no coverage or protection. The bull was chill enough that I could back off slowly and not spook it, but easily could have been bad. Be mindful out there.

The people up there were all great. Just a group of strangers all there to relax and enjoy the hot springs. Everyone was there for a great time. Don’t be uptight cause there will be drinking, probably nudity and a few were smoking pot.

I would suggest bringing foot wear you can wear in the spring. It’s great but the bottom and edges are super rocky. It’s very painful getting in and out. Sunscreen and bug spray cause flys and mosquitoes were all over me. Also don’t skimp on cold weather stuff. The days were very nice, but even early August as soon as the sun sets behind the mountains it got VERY cold.

on Cathedral Lake Trail

11 days ago

The hardest part is the last stretch before you top out to reach the lake, so be prepared for that. The switchbacks are very steep and in the sun. There were a LOT of gnats around the lake but the views were beautiful.

We started at 8am and the trail was pretty unpopulated. We ran into a LOT of people making their way up as we came down, including people blasting music from their phones (please do not blast music on trails).

11 days ago

So beautiful! One of my favorite Alpine lakes now. Can’t beat that turquoise water with a mountain backdrop. The road was a little bumpy to the trailhead, but not as bad as I anticipated. My car made it just fine. Lots of cattle on the trail and I saw a terrified adolescent bear cub. Made me kinda sad at how scared he was. :(

on Lost Man Trail

11 days ago

My favorite hike! Majestic views with lovely lakeside picnic spots. Makes for a wonderful day in the mountains. Two-car
shuttle is perfect with starting point at Linkin Lake/Lost Man TH and second car awaiting at Lost Man Campground/TH below:)

13 days ago

Hiked it today with family, 4 hrs round trip including 30 mins for lunch, vertical comes at you fast in first hour, but manageable if you stay aerobic. This was my fourth or fifth time hiking American Lake, great for our first day, family in from East Coast, I came from the Okanagan in Canada. Certainly not one of the prettiest alpine lakes I have hiked to, in my opinion if the American Lake hike workout is your goal, do Cathedral instead

Absolutely beautiful hike! Flowers/colors are amazing! We hiked in on 8/3 for 1 night.
Took us about 5 hours to get to the first camp site #19 and at least 30 minutes more to get to site #4 (our site). The hike from #19 to #4 may have been the most difficult part of the hike. We saw 3 moose, a few deer and a far off bear sunning itself in a rock near silver dollar lake! Rangers stopped us on our way and asked to see our permit, ID and bear canister. The springs were spectacular and surprisingly uncrowded. Took us 3.5 hours to hike out.

Did this hike a few years ago. Totally worth it!

Challenging, but totally worth it. It was a steady uphill with some switchbacks to start, followed by some serious rock navigation. The toughest part was the switchbacks up the mountainside around mile 2. Poles would be handy. the lake was gorgeous and peaceful.

Last couple of miles to trailhead were uphill, unpaved and rocky with lots of potholes Trailhead is well marked and there is a parking lot. When we arrived, there were lots of cows all around the start of the hike—lots of cows=lots of cow pies. Long hike to get to lake—we never made it. We stopped an hour in when we passed other hikers who said it was another 1 1/2 hours to the lake. There were some pretty vistas along the way. Was a cloudy, drizzling day so views could have been even better.

Wonderful hike but it was tough for us two 50-something flatlanders with only one day acclimating. Loved lake.

Great hike. Loved views and refreshing swim in lake. Only few people on the trail so we felt like we had it all to ourselves.

Hard but really rewarding with beautiful vast views and the lake at as a nice reward at the end. Difficult and moderate parts with beautiful waterfalls and wildflowers. Looking forward to doing it again. A fun hike with friends.

I didn’t read all the reviews so sorry if redundant. I’ve hiked nearly every trail near aspen over the last 30 years. I come back to this one. Great aspen to alpine forest variation. Descent workout going up. My sense is that the hike is more than 6mi round trip. The trail is remarkably clear and smooth for trails into the mountains. Great meadows near the top. When u get to the lake take the trail a bit further to the left side and there’s a great rocky outcropping to sit on to see the mountains that rise above the lake. Lake is clear and clean. Can see trout swimming clearly. Swim in the lake if you like cold- burrrrr. Saw someone cut their foot so be careful!

So beautiful!

My GPS had this bike at 8.1 miles which is considerably more than the 5.8 miles noted. In any event, it was a nice hike that offered some steep climbs right from the parking lot. The overall hike up/down took about 3:40 minutes that included lunch at the lake. Nice viewing along the way and had ample trees to protect from the hot sun

Consistent pitch for hiking up and down. Not to strenuous. Hiked up past upper lake and then reversed course. GPS had hike back/forth at 9.5 miles which took 3:30 to complete

did it yesterday. love it!! lakes are refreshing after a long hot hike.

29 days ago

We hiked in late July on a Saturday and the trail head parking area was full. We parked on the road with a large number of hikers. The trail rating is correct and the trail is well maintained. There were lots of wildflowers and a number of scenic views. The area near the lake and the lake itself were great.

1 month ago

Great views!!

We hiked to both lakes a few days ago and this hike was one of the best hikes we've ever been on. We were there on a weekday and saw only one group of people the entire day. We fished at both lakes, but didn't catch anything - there's definitely fish in there but they're very smart. The hike starts at 11,200 and the second lake is at 12,300 so be prepared to be short of breath. We live at less than 700 ft so we were sucking wind the entire time. The hike from Anderson to Petroleum lakes is more strenuous than the first section of the hike. But it's all very worth it!
The first part of the drive from the main road can be done without 4x4, but the last 3.5 miles from the campground to the trailhead pretty much requires 4x4 and decent clearance. That being said, it's an easy 4x4 trail, not too difficult for inexperienced offroaders.
Between the two lakes is a small meadow full of beautiful wildflowers. The lakes, flowers, and views were all so gorgeous. Would definitely recommend this hike.
P.S. - there's two ponds in between the lakes. Don't stop there, but continue up to the left to reach Petroleum lake.

1 month ago

We got up to the bench lookout point and figured we were almost to the top. After a little more walking we asked someone coming down how much farther we had to go and he said we still had about 4 miles left. We decided to then turn back around because we were not prepared for 12 miles of hiking. It was a beautiful hike but the description "3.9 miles out and back" is deceiving. It's 3.9 miles out and back if you stop and turn around at the bench lookout point. Having lived in Colorado for many years the lookout point wasn't too exciting. The rest of the hike was beautiful and a really easy day hike.

Wildflowers are out and beautiful!

Nice workout and incline through beautiful aspen grove. I prefer it in the fall when aspen are gold. Beautiful alpine lake with turquoise water. Take a dip in the summertime! One of my fav trails in the area.

This was a beautiful hike through a few different types of terrain. The first half is pretty climby, but once the path changes into a forest vibe, it mellows out to a far more moderate grade. My GPS clocks this at 6.4 miles round-trip. Bug spray was mandatory.

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