American Lake Trail

HARD 209 reviews
#21 of 230 trails in

American Lake Trail is a 6 mile 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: 6.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,020 feet 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
12 days ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

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

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 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
3 months ago

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

recorded American Lake Trail

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

beautiful trail with lots of wild flowers.

hiking
bugs
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 months ago

Hard but beautiful

hiking
4 months ago

Trail in great condition!

hiking
4 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
4 months ago

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

hiking
4 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
5 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.

hiking
5 months ago

We enjoyed this hike very much. The 1st half of the trail is pretty steep with a lot of switchbacks. The trail also gets steep towards the end. There was still snow on the ground a a few muddy patches. It took us 3 hours to get to the lake (very slow at the beginning) - what a treat!! I highly recommend this trail and will definitely hike it again.

hiking
5 months ago

The trail was remarkably dry. There were only a few areas of snow to cross near the lake. Definitely one of the best trails near Aspen

hiking
5 months ago

I hiked this trail today and was not as impressed as I have been with others I’ve done in the area. It starts right off the bat climbing a pretty steady set of switch backs in the aspens. Long, steep switch backs!! There is some exposure along this first stretch too, so although there’s lots of trees, there are places the sun will beat down on you. Once you get into the conifers and leave the aspens behind, the trail isn’t quite as steep. At mile 2, the trail hits the top of a ridge and then descends slightly for a while, and then there’s a slight incline the rest of the way to the lake. The bulk of the trail has no real views into the back country as you hike either. It is pretty much a forested type hike. You only get the views when you finally arrive at the lake. Now the lake, well, it’s not a huge body of water by any means. I could see it wasn’t real big on Google earth, so I wasn’t totally surprised. And the view of the surrounding peaks, eh, it’s ok but again, not like some other areas I’ve been in. It took me an hour and 45 minutes up and an hour and 5 minutes down. The mileage posted is accurate, exactly 3 miles one way per my Garmin. So, although it’s always nice to be out in the woods, it was just alright for me dog.

hiking
5 months ago

Yes, it is still very snowy! Don't let the snow deter you, it's a great hike, beautiful view and at this point it isn't hard to find the trail with many foot prints in the snow. First while is difficult uphill with no snow, gets easier and snowier deeper in. Bring a change of socks, your feet and shoes will be very wet.

hiking
5 months ago

Good hike at the start, it definitely gets going uphill right away. Snow started about 10,200’. With the help of the All Trails map and a couple of previous foot steps, we were able to blaze a trail to the top. The lake was still mostly frozen, but still worth the hike for the views. The snow softened up on the way down and we definitely postholed more than a few times. Between that and the trail we left uphill, there should be no more route finding problems until it has melted out. FYI, it was not all snow above 10,200’, but probably 50-60% of the way was snow covered. We ended up with wet cold feet, I’d bring gaiters for sure. All Trails app showed this to be closer to a 6.8 mile hike, YMMV..

hiking
5 months ago

Quite a bit of snow on ground after an overnight dump. We made it roughly 2.2 miles in, where you leave the aspen groves and enter the pines. There was way too much snow on ground to continue and navigation became difficult. Shame. Will definitely be back

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