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.


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Arriving early in the morning before the sun has risen over the peaks on a late fall day, 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 forgot how cold I was.


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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 are out of the Aspens and into a dense spruce-fir forest where the sun can barely sneak in.



Now we are finding the trail more moderate as we hike past 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 stopping and taking 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. That feeling when you can see the basin where the lake sits and it seems you never get there.




We are here! Before us, 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 above treeline and found this was exceptionally pretty.




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.


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Let’s eat, let’s just sit and enjoy and we did. Surrounded by chipmunks who obviously knew how to get into your things, sneaking up and crawling into our backpacks. Camp Robbers swooping down to catch any crumb we might leave. Just shows that this area is busy in summer and the wildlife knows.




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 with no threat of storms, and fall leaves beneath your boots. Was a sensational day.

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).




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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



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