American Lake Trail is a 9.7 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 9.7 km Elevation Gain: 616 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

forest

lake

views

Directions from Aspen: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82. At the roundabout, turn onto Castle Creek Road. Drive 10 miles to the Elk Mountain Lodge. There is parking on the right where the trailhead begins.

hiking
snow
2 days ago

Hiked to American Lake yesterday, 5/23. Many people made it (us included) without snowshoes, but it was challenging, lots of postholing. That said, so many people hiking it that by the end of the holiday weekend, it might be a lot easier (trail may be well broken-in by then).

hiking
2 days ago

We made it up the trail roughly 1.5-2 miles and then hit some really deep snow once we entered into the pine trees. The snow was so deep, 4-5 feet in most places, that we eventually had to turn around. No fun falling thru the snow constantly. Snow shoes will be required for the next 3-4 weeks at a minimum

hiking
snow
9 days ago

hiking
snow
11 days ago

The trail is clear until you finish the difficult incline. As soon as we reached the spruce forest up top where the hike finally flattens there was still a couple feet of snow. You’ll need snowshoes to finish the hike for another couple of weeks.

hiking
muddy
snow
12 days ago

100% need snowshoes to complete this right now. Quality hike though.

hiking
5 months ago

trail in good shape but steep in places. great views especially by lake near end.

hiking
7 months ago

It’s a tough climb on the way to the lake and more like 6.5 miles, but the views at, and on the way to, the lake are totally worth it!

hiking
7 months ago

Highly recommend, great scenery, steep all the way to the lake.

hiking
7 months ago

One of my favorite hikes around Aspen. So good I almost don't want to mention it

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Difficult!! Couple drop offs with skinny trail. Great views tho.

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail - challenging at first, just like most reviews. Careful around the avalanche chutes as you approach the lake. Highly recommend!

hiking
bugs
rocky
8 months ago

Views are great!!!! Getting there was rough but so worth it!!

recorded American Lake Trail

hiking
muddy
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

beautiful trail with lots of wild flowers.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Loved this hike! Very beautiful throughout, but the aspens at the start of the trail were breathtaking! I would rate this a moderate-difficult hike. Totally do-able if your acclimated and in decent shape. My FitBit said it was about 8 miles total, but not sure how accurate that is. I’d say a must do hike if you’re in the area.

hiking
9 months ago

The Good, The Bad, The Lake & the Overall Trail The Good: This is an amazing hike. It makes you work for it, full of stunning views and flora the entire way (see photos). The wildflowers are out of control, in the best way possible (see photos). The bugs are beautiful, yes you read that correctly. There is a plethora of butterflies of every shape, color, and size. There are also sapphire dragonflies and emerald beetles. On the way up there are no biting bugs, but there are a few up at the lake. The Bad: The first mile plus... woof. Steep with numerous switchbacks. No trailhead toilets/latrines. This is a popular hike so the parking lot can fill up quick. The Lake & the Overall Trail: The lake has crystal aquamarine, crisp water, and full of large trout. It is set in a mountain backdrop with an aromatic pine scent. The lake isn’t the only spectacular attribute of this trail though. There is a beautiful little waterfall, an impressive scree field, never-ending Rocky Mountain views, rolling green hills, a plethora of wildflowers, and a aspen grove with towering trees (see photos).

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Completed this trail on 8/2. Clocked exactly 6 miles RT. This trail was beautiful, nicely shaded, with rewarding views at the top. Versatile flora throughout, with lots of wildflowers this time of year. Be aware that it is challenging - the first half in particular is very steep, narrow, and fairly overgrown in places. If you’re not used to the altitude it will definitely get your heart rate going. I found the lake at the top to be somewhat underwhelming (compared to the nearby Cathedral Lake), however it was also very mosquito-ey and cloudy which sort of dampened the experience. Recommend bringing LOTS of water, a rain shell, and bug spray.

running
9 months ago

This is a shaded trail from start to finish. It is very well maintained and my favorite hiking trail in the valley. I run 50-60 miles a week and this is my second favorite running trail second only to Hunter Creek or Hunter Valley trail. It is also an awesome family trail where my family hikes and I meet them at the top of the lake attraction and then i run down and meet my family who hikes down to the parking lot.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful trail. It starts on switchbacks where most of the elevation is for the first mile. Then, the trail switches to forests/meadows and is more flat. It’s pretty easy from here until you hit the last 0.50 miles and it’s a gradual climb. There is a bit of scree to cover before the lake. The views were amazing and the trail is well maintained. I arrived at 6 and saw no one on the way up, but passed about 10 groups on the way down.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike from start to finish. Loved the groves of aspen trees, the wildflowers all along the trail, and the view from the lake. Highly recommend!

hiking
9 months ago

Did this hike yesterday, was challenging but worth it. The switchbacks in the beginning were leg burners. This trail has all the elements - aspens, pines, beautiful meadows, sounds of running water, a waterfall, and of course the lake.

hiking
10 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous lake at the top! The climb is grueling. Poles are helpful if you have them. We also got some rain so come prepared.

hiking
10 months ago

Hard but beautiful

hiking
10 months ago

Trail in great condition!

hiking
10 months ago

We've done the Cathedral Lake hike a few times, but decided to give this one a go. Verdict: if you have to choose one, stick with Cathedral. This was a grind most of the way up, and going from Aspen forests to pine forests left little for any sweeping views. The lake at the top is beautiful, but Cathedral Lake is prettier, imo.

hiking
10 months ago

Great trail conditions dirt some roots but not so much for tripping and falling

hiking
10 months ago

the elevation gain is intense but when you get to the lake you know you have accomplished something. The trail is well maintained and safe. It’s one of the coolest on the area. Go!

hiking
10 months ago

Trail was a beast coming up and down due to steep incline/decline, but well worth the effort. No real snow on the trail and what little there was you could easily walk around. As someone who is terrified of heights, I found this trail to be super manageable- there's one spot right before the lake when you sort of scramble a little through rocks and, while it wasn't my favorite part, it's pretty short and if you take it slowly it's perfectly doable.

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