Added by Grant Whitty
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.
- Hiking Boots
- 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
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
ReviewsLeave a Review
Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike the Shanahan Ridge Trail
Colorado / Shanahan Ridge Trailhead
Starting on the edge of a neighborhood in South Boulder, this 3.8 mile loop begins its 869 foot elevation gain by meandering through a pine forest.
Hike the Arapaho Traverse
Colorado / Fourth of July Trailhead
Begin at the Fourth of July Trailhead. Day parking is free and overnight parking is $5. Fourth of July is a popular trailhead and to ensure parking, you should arrive early in the morning (6am-ish..