Hike to American Lakes

Rate this Adventure Colorado American Lakes Trail Head

  • Activities:

    Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1680 Feet

Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

American Lakes is an intermediate and well-marked trail with great features like alpine lakes, wildflowers, wildlife, and panoramic views of the Never Summer Mountains. 

American Lakes are two high alpine lakes located within State Forest State Park and the Never Summer Mountain Range. The park is located about 75 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. along Highway 14 on the west side of Cameron Pass.

Coming down from Cameron Pass, look for a sign for the American Lakes Trailhead. When turning into the access road, make sure to fill out the form and pay the daily fee for the park ($7.00 USD // 9.24.2016). After payment, continue down the access road until you reach the parking area. The parking area is a dirt plot at the end of the access road. There will be signs. 

Once you reach the trail head tighten your hiking boots and double check that you have all of your gear. Hit the trail just behind the Sign-In Board. The trail is very wide as it is also used for snowmobile traffic in the winter. 

Continue on the wide trail for a about a mile. As you ascend you will soon intersect Michigan Ditch Road. Do not follow the road, continue straight through the interaction and to the right to continue towards American Lakes. There will be signage incase you get lost. 

After the intersection with Michigan Ditch, remain on the wide trail. Soon the trail will begin to thin out into a single-track hiking trail. From here the trail will begin slowly switchbacking up towards the lakes. We found a few grouse in the woods there.

There are quite a few switchbacks, though they are gradual, take your time. The trail will begin breaking out of the trees and into the high-alpine after a good number of switchbacks. 

Once you ascend above tree line, the lakes are just minutes away. You will wind through one last patch of small trees before you reach the lakes. 

Now the lakes will be in sight, advance onward towards the shore. Take a sip of water, have a snack and enjoy the serenity. 

We hiked to the lakes on September 24, 2016. This was Colorado's first snowfall for the upcoming winter season. Keep in mind, Colorado mountains often gets snow as early as September 1. Make sure to check the weather and dress accordingly. 

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Camera
  • Snacks 
  • Water  
  • Layered Clothing, they call it the Never Summer Mountains for a reason.
  • Backpack with Waist Belt
  • Sun Protection on Sunny Days
  • Rain Protection on Rainy Days
Read More

Reviews

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Leave a Review

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Grant WhittyExplorer

Saved + Stoked

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Mountain Bike the Notch Trail

Colorado / Notch Trailhead

The trail is shared by mountain bikers and ATV users. The Notch Trail is located in the San Juan National Forest.  Photos: William Snow, Davey Nin, and Kent Kanouse

6 Saves

Hike the Hidden Valley Loop

Colorado / Hidden Valley Loop Trails

The trail is shared by mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners. The Hidden Valley Loop offers amazing views of the Animas Valley, especially when the foliage changes in the fall.

12 Saves

Hike the Jones and Dutch Creek Loop

Colorado / Jones Creek and Dutch Creek Trail

The trail is well maintained and is dog friendly. Bring extra water if using this trail in July or August.  Photos: Chris M Morris and Daniel Weber 

14 Saves