American Lakes Trail

MODERATE 76 reviews
#2 of 11 trails in

American Lakes Trail is a 6.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Walden, Colorado that features a lake. The trail is rated as moderate offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,453 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

Alpine tundra, wildflowers, cirques, Continental Divide views! Trail ends at American Lakes with options over Thunder Pass into RMNP or up to Snow Lake. Spectacular views w/fly & lure fishing permitted. A great backpack trip. Fires prohibited above timberline.

7 days ago

Beautiful scenery, very diverse (meadows, forest, open space above tree line with amazing views, stunning lake), trail well maintained. Would highly recommend and would do it again! One thing I would like to add is that the mileage seems a bit off. I measured about 8 miles out and back.

hiking
12 days ago

Hiked today and was impressed with the views...then we saw the moose on the trail. Incredible! Just hike up to Snow Lake...you won’t regret it. Maybe 15-20 people in the 10 miles we hiked.

hiking
13 days ago

Outstanding! Ideal for backpacking in to camp at the end of the trail before it gives way to trails to Thunder Pass and Snow Lake. Could hike to Thunder Pass one day and Snow Lake another, or crush them both in one day!

hiking
16 days ago

Stunning the whole way!

hiking
18 days ago

What a great hike! 6 Moose and some deer along the trail. Lots of wild flowers and enough of a distance and elevation gain for a good workout. The lakes at the top were amazing. Quite a few campers staying over night by the lakes. Trail is very rocky in several places, but easy to follow with so many different views from thick forest, open meadows to hill top scenery.

hiking
24 days ago

Really enjoyed this trail. It was pretty easy going. We took our three dogs along and it wasn’t too difficult for them. They loved playing in the lake at the end. We did not hike up to snow lake or thunder pass. According to my Fitbit, the distance was closer to 8 Miles. Saw three moose on the way out of the parking lot. Would have been a great trail for backpacking.

25 days ago

My new favorite hike! The first section starts off with a steady uphill, but it levels off with lots of switchbacks with views around every corner. We saw a bull moose resting under a tree and a baby moose snacking in the trees. We didn't see mama, but we know she was near. Michigan lake is absolutely stunning especially if you make the hike to Snow Lake. Snow Lake was pretty, but the view of Michigan Lake from there was breathtaking.

fishing
1 month ago

wonderful place. easy hike. watched the moose from on top of the hill play in the water.

hiking
1 month ago

This is one of my favorite trails yet! It’s scenic but does have parts full of trees. Snow lake at the very top is gorgeous as well. Loved everything about this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

My daughters and I packed into the lakes, and saw only a few people. We had no bug issues and had only one other group at the lake. We caught a good number of natives in American Lake, on flies. We saw moose, elk, fox, and bald eagles, all around the lake.
Keep your dogs under control, not everyone loves your dog! Please don't camp right next to the trail, and clean up your trash.
I don't know why we have to even say these things.

backpacking
1 month ago

My two sons and I had a great 3 day trip. We got back to our truck around 10:30 yesterday morning and saw the two moose in the parking lot that was previously mentioned. Beautiful lakes, good fishing, and quite a few people. Oh, a note to people with their dogs unleashed, I’m fine with it. I love dogs. But, keep them under control, please. When we were casting into the water, a Lab and a Labradoodle came bounding down the hill, into the water where we were fishing. The owners were 100 feet up the hill and trail yelling at the dogs, and didn’t apologize. The dogs were chasing our lures and are lucky they didn’t get snagged. As the dogs continued to frolic in the water, we just decided to move down the shoreline. Confrontation wasn’t worth it.

1 month ago

I am glad I got to the trailhead early, there were 2 Moose in the field right by the parking lot. The flowers were still in full bloom.

backpacking
1 month ago

Gorgeous views, tons of wildflowers, and a very moderate hike in. We also saw several moose during the trip. Not a ton of camping spots, so if you're backpacking you'll want to get up there really on the weekends, or hike in Friday night. The hike up to American Lakes (really only one lake) was borderline easy at only 3ish miles one way, I'm not sure why it is rated as difficult. Nice place to camp, as you can do little jaunts up to Snow Lake, Thunder Pass, and the couple peaks right on the basin (we did Lulu Mtn.), which are also quite moderate. This is a VERY popular spot given the short distance, so expect to see a lot of people, though most are day hikers.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike was amazing. We ended up doing it a little different though. A 100k was going on when we arrived so we had to park on the grass and ended up hiking up the gravel road to the Lakes Agnes Trailhead. We hiked to Lake Agnes and then followed Michigan Ditch Trail to connect to the American Lakes Trail. We followed the American Lakes Trail the rest of the way. The lake was SO worth it, and I am still in shock with how beautiful the views and wildflowers were. We got a little rained on, but it wasn't too bad. On the way back down, we were lucky enough to see four moose gazing in the field. I highly recommend this hike!

hiking
1 month ago

dreamy hike! i didnt find it challenging at all, definitely more moderate. it took me 10 miles because i took the wrong trail back and ended up further than i needed to be. i went mid-day, it was cloudy to protect me from the sun but not stormy. pretty windy at the lake which is good for me, no mosquitos! definitely recommend.

also its $7 cash to park at the trailhead entrance, and its on an honor system (cash box). signs say they give citations for no permit, but im not sure how enforced that is.

1 month ago

Gorgeous views and such a peaceful hike. We left the house at 3:45am and arrived around 630ish and we only saw 1 or two people on the trail. The first few miles are nice and shaded but after a while there was no shade and it got a bit warm. Wear sunscreen and bug spray I had mosquitos biting through my pants. So many pretty wild flowers and for my first time after livingin Colorado I finally got to see moose. We saw 1 on the side of the road up and 4 more in the meadow on the actual trail. Bull moose did not look happy so we moved slowly and kept going away from them but what an adrenaline rush. We made it back down around 10:30 after stopping a few times and it got very crowded by then.

backpacking
2 months ago

Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Wildflowers are everywhere right now, columbines in hues I’ve never seen. We spent the night at the top and there was only one other tent on a Thursday. Snow lake is amazing as well. It’s an outdoor wonderland at the top. I would rate the hike moderate, but is longer than listed roundtrip.

2 months ago

Streams, chest high wildflowers & moose.

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike! While there are parts of the trail that are harder I'd say it was more moderate than hard. My fitbit recorded the hike at 7.98 miles (from trailhead to lake and back to trailhead) and it generally is less than my GPS records when I hike, so I'm not sure about the all trails site saying it's only 6.8 miles. We were hoping to see moose but only saw one deer the whole time. Lots of beautiful wildflowers, we will definitely do this one again!
Oh, and wear sunscreen, that higher elevation sun is no joke!

backpacking
2 months ago

Just spent 2 nights up here. Gorgeous in every direction. Tons of wildflowers!! Lots of fun exploring around the basin, Snow Lake and Thunder Pass. Lots of traffic coming in when we left Friday. For more solitude do mid week. Didn’t see area mama moose and baby, but did see a herd of elk moving through at dawn.

backpacking
2 months ago

Most incredible hike! So beautiful in every direction. I can’t wait to do it again.

2 months ago

This hike is amazing! Definitely was expecting it to be way harder than it was. Biggest incline is probably from Michigan to Snow Lake, but it’s a super quick scramble and worth it. Snow Lake was still probably 1/4 covered in snow and ice, but trail was clear! Saw no moose, but a lot of people I passed had seen a huge one and a momma and her baby. Sooo beautiful. Great one for backpacking

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous wildflowers right now. Snow lake is amazing as it has some ice still remaining.

2 months ago

Worth the effort just to see the wildflowers and trout!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful

The snow is gone, time for trail runners and shorts!

hiking
3 months ago

I love this trail, but the current state of snow piling up on it makes it impossible to complete in a reasonable amount of time. A friend and I tried to complete it yesterday on June 10, 2018. There's deep unpacked snow that's partially melted covering at least the first three miles of the trail. We lost the trail under the snow several times and our shoes were soaked before we gave up and turned around after three hours. I wouldn't bother trying to do this trail until July, or until someone posts here that the snow is melted off of the trail. We did see deer and a moose while driving back to the main road, though. Lots of wildflowers currently as well. Be sure to bring $7 cash for the park permit.

mountain biking
5 months ago

Saw literally 5+ moose early last fall. One of the best- really not too bad.

hiking
5 months ago

Still a rewarding trek on snowshoes this week, but starting to get slushy down low. No bare spots by any means, but made for an icy trip back at the end of the day. Still parking at the HWY14 turn off for The Craggs at this point which adds some distance/time. Always love this hike!!

snowshoeing
9 months ago

Snowshoes or Cross-country skies are a must at this point. Only time we took off our snowshoes was on the frozen Michigan Lakes. The snow is very deep right now. Absolutely beautiful though with some great views of the surrounding mountains. Had to take the Michigan Ditch service road from the Cameron Pass parking lot so the trail was a little over 10 miles round trip which was exhausting.

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