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American Lakes Trail

MODERATE 84 reviews
#2 of 13 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 and 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

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

Alpine tundra, wildflowers, cirques, Continental Divide views. Trail ends at American Lakes with options to continue over Thunder Pass into Rocky Mountain National Park or up to Snow Lake. Fly and lure fishing permitted. A great backpacking trip. Fires prohibited above timberline. For hiking, trail is best used from July to October.

hiking
3 days ago

Trail is well-maintained and not too hard to navigate. Elevation gain is gradual. Most of the snow had melted from the trail. There was a bit on the trail closer to the top. Love the trail!

hiking
10 days ago

Trail is most definitely not clear of snow contrary to the review below. We started the hike around 7am and were at the lakes by 9am. We hung out for a few hours and by the time we started back down around 12pm the sun was blasting and we were postholing through knee deep snow. The trail is beautiful and can be done without winter gear but be prepared to get snow and mud in your boots.

hiking
muddy
snow
10 days ago

The comment below said the trail is clear of snow but there is definitely still snow on the trail, though patchy starting in the meadow about 1.5 miles in, it's still slippery (not that deep though) and micro spikes may be needed depending on your comfort level; once you get out of tree line the snow is pretty much gone except for a few places. I'm sure the snow will be completely melted in a weeks time. Beautiful trail and views and the wildflowers are starting to bloom!

hiking
12 days ago

Snow is clear off the trail now as well as the lake. beautiful hike although the switchbacks through the Aspen's were tough. It then levelled out somewhat in upper elevations with pines. Recent kill, dead elk leg was on the trail. Several large trees fell recently as well but can still get around them.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
washed out
13 days ago

This is hands down one of my favorite hikes in Colorado. In August to September it is spectacular! I just wanted to throw out a warning that you will need snowshoes till likely the 15th of July and waterproof boots. The trail was difficult to navigate and I saw 80% of people turn around half way due to the 2-4ft of snow+slush. If you're going to hike this in July 2019 come prepared and call the ranger station for an update. The lake was frozen over but it was absolutely beautiful the entire way. 5 stars for beauty but be prepared!

hiking
snow
26 days ago

Road to lot was very muddy and snowy. Will need 4WD. Tough hike in 1 - 2 feet of snow. Well marked. Not going to be thawed out for at least a few more weeks.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Parking is still right off the main road (although you can go a couple hundred feet down the dirt road but the gate is still closed so you would either have to reverse back up the dirt road or do a 5 point turn because other cars may block you in). The surrounding mountains are still covered in snow but the road to the main American Lakes parking area is patchy and slushy. Once you get closer to the parking lot itself the rest of the trail is snowed in. Didn't make it the whole way to the lakes but the views are amazing! From the American Lakes parking lot its about 1 mile to the wilderness sign/Michigan ditch trail connector.

8 months ago

Its snowshoe season!

8 months ago

The best in Colorado

hiking
9 months ago

Awesome trail! Couple of inches of snow on the trail this morning! Time to start whipping out cross country skiis and snow shoes!

10 months 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
10 months 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
10 months 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
10 months ago

Stunning the whole way!

hiking
10 months 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
10 months 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.

10 months 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
10 months ago

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

hiking
10 months 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
11 months 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
11 months 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.

11 months 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
11 months 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
11 months 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
11 months 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.

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