American Lake Trail has got it all. Just minutes from beautiful Aspen CO, this hike is what Aspen is all about. Beautiful aspen groves line the trail soon leading into a dense forest of pines and spruces, arriving at an alpine lake with sweeping high peaks views.


Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).



We arrived early in the morning before the sun had risen over the peaks on a late fall day and the air is crisp and cold.



Even though I could see the sun far up the trail and wanted to get warm I was mesmerized by the crunch of the fall leaves beneath my boots and the stillness all around. I soon forgot how cold I was.

CLICK HERE > for practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike.


best hikes to see Aspens in Colorado, Colorado hikes, hiking, hiking trails, American Lake Trail, day hikes


What a relief, the sun is now upon us, and just like that it’s warm and the skies have filled with their magnificent blue. We’ve hiked about 1 mile up steep switchbacks through fields of aspen grooves. No kidding, it’s all uphill and beautiful. You can just barely see the tip of the peaks where American Lake is far ahead of us.




Abruptly we pop out of the Aspen trees and right into a dense spruce-fir forest where the sun can barely sneak in.




Now the trail became more moderate as we hike past vast open slopes and back into the trees again.




Took my breath away as we get closer to American Lake. The sweeping views all around us along with the anticipation of the lake was making us anxious to get to the lake and soak it all in. The thought of finally stopping and getting to take a rest was part of it!

Scree lined the sides of us and loose rocks were abundant, the trail is a bit more rugged here.





A little farther to go and I have that feeling you get when you can see the basin where the lake sits ahead of you and it seems you never get there.




We are here! Before us lies an emerald green lake nestled deep in the basin lined with dense trees on one side and steep rocky walls on another. I wasn’t expecting trees thinking we are going to be above treeline and found this was exceptionally pretty.

3 Exceptional Maps of Trails to Explore More!

National Geographic Aspen Local Trails Map & Guide

Sky Terrain Trail Maps Aspen, Crested Butte and Maroon Bells Trail Map

Trails Illustrated Aspen / Independence Pass Topographic Map



Crystal clear water lined the shores and we could see an abundance of large trout mousing about without a worry. However, there was someone fishing across the lake perched high on a rock face.


American Lake, hikes in Aspen, Colorado hikes, Alpine lake hikes


Such a wonderful area to hang out and grab lunch even though we were surrounded by chipmunks sneaking up and crawling into our backpacks looking for food. Camp Robbers swooping down constantly to catch any crumb we might leave. Just shows that this area is busy in summer and the wildlife knows how to work it.





As we head back down through the pines, many more hikers are heading up. Most asking us if they are almost there, how much farther is it?





Was hard to leave the aspens behind. Such a treat hiking in the fall season that is so short-lived. If you can come in the fall, you’ll find no crowds, easy parking, great weather without the threat of storms, and fall leaves beneath your boots. Was a sensational day and now one of my favorite hikes.

LOCATED: Heading into the town of Aspen on Hwy 82 (coming from Glenwood Springs) at the first roundabout go around and turn right on Castle Creek Road. Travel 10 miles and turn right into the American Lake Trailhead. (watch for the small trail sign on Castle Creek Road at the turn to the trailhead).




Ashcroft Ghost Town, Ghost towns in Colorado, Independence Township, American Lake Trail, Aspen CO,

Turn right onto Castle Creek Road from the trailhead and in one mile you’ll see Ashcroft Ghost Town. A short hike through Colorado history. We enjoyed, doing a self-guided tour in the off-season.

TIDBITS: American Lake Trail

6.4 miles out and back

Rated: Strenuous

Elevation gain: approx: 2000′

Highest elevation: 11,390′

No restrooms

Dogs ok on leash

Nearest Town: Aspen, CO

Known for Wildflowers in Summer!

Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness



Crystal Mill Hike, an Iconic Colorado Must! – Marble, CO

Hope Lake Trail, a Must-Do Hike! – Ophir, CO

Wasatch Trail to Nellie MIne, Exhilarating! – Telluride, CO

Blue Lakes Trail, Beyond Expectations! – Ridgway, CO

Booth Lake Trail, for Hiking Enthusiasts! – Vail, CO

Native Lake Trail, Ever-Changing Scenery! – Leadville, CO

Mohawk Lakes Trail, Colorado’s Best Hike – Breckenridge, CO

BE PREPARED! CLICK HERE > for practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike.

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).