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American Lakes Trail

  • American Lakes 1
  • American Lakes 2
  • American Lakes 3
  • American Lakes 4
  • American Lakes 5
  • American Lakes 6
  • American Lakes 7
  • American Lakes 8
  • American Lakes 9
  • American Lakes 10
  • American Lakes 11
  • American Lakes 12
  • American Lakes 13
  • American Lakes 14
  • American Lakes 15
  • American Lakes 16

Photos by SQ

American Lakes Trail

Area Poudre Canyon
Park/Forest Colorado State Forest State Park
Trailhead American Lakes Trail
Distance Roundtrip 11.0 Miles
Elevation Start 9520 ft
Elevation Gain ≈ 1520 ft
Features Lake, Vistas
Dogs Allowed? Yes, on leash


This trail is also sometimes called the Michigan Lakes Trail or the Thunder Pass Trail. The American Lakes Trail is a popular hiking trail and backpacking destination. It's popular for good reason, as there are stunning views and good chances of spotting wildlife, especially moose. The first half of the trail is mostly forest. As you continue to climb there are wide open valleys and mountain views. Once you get to the area where the lakes are, you are surrounded by peaks and great views all around. Most of the suitable camping spots are by the trees before you reach the lakes. The two lakes sort of run into each other. There is another very pretty lake above them called Snow Lake, which is a scramble to get to and is surrounded by cliffs and boulders. Snow Lake is exposed and rocky and not suitable for camping.

From the American Lakes, you can do some extra hiking and take the trail all the way up to Thunder Pass and the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. At the top of Thunder Pass you will be treated to absolutely stunning 360 views. You can see the the valley below, the peaks all around, the Nokhu Crags and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Directions info

Get Directions in Google Maps →
From the junction of Highway 14 and Highway 287(Ted's Place), travel 60 miles west on Highway 14, then take Co Rd 62 two miles east to the trailhead parking area. It's a little confusing getting to the parking area as it's not well marked but Co Rd 62 basically parallels Highway 14 most of the way to the parking area.


Colorado State Forest State Park Trails Page
Colorado State Forest State Park Trail Map PDF


The link to 'Directions in Google Maps' will open in a new window and give you directions from your current location to the trailhead. You can also change the starting location in the top field of the directions area. Note that for some rural trailheads the directions could route you to the nearest address it has, which could be a half mile down the road.

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