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American Lakes

 4.8 (4)
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Map Key

11.6 Miles 18.6 Kilometers



1,195' 364 m


-1,195' -364 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (10°)

11,314' 3,449 m


10,263' 3,128 m


Shared By mattnorville Norv



Getting forecast...

A short tour up into the alpine and ends at the border of Rocky Mountain National Park.

mattnorville Norv

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-

Once you make it on top of Thunder Pass you need to turn around due to it bordering Rocky Mountain National Park.

I also believe dogs need to be on a leash.


A great out-n-back that brings you up above tree line. This area is busy in the summer and a popular backcountry skiing area in winter.

If traveling on the weekend you'll see plenty of hikers and some other bikers. The trail is eroded in some spots. Depending on the time of year there may be snow on the trail.

Need to Know

The last bit of the ride is above tree line so watch out for the typical afternoon thunder storm. It is also in the alpine area so be ready for quick changes in temperature and weather.


One of the few places you can ride bikes around Cameron Pass due to restrictions such as wilderness areas. The best way to start the wide is to park at the lot at the summit of the pass below Diamond Peak. This allows you to avoid paying for entrance.

Carefully, cross Hwy 14 to Michigan Ditch. There is usually a gate blocking the ditch road, ride around it. Continue along the gravel road until the turn off for American Lakes Trail turn off, turn left.

The trail will start to gain altitude by using contours and switchbacks and presents riders with water bars, roots, rocks, and even a wooden bridge over a creek. Once you get above tree line you are close to the lakes. This is a nice spot to refill water, eat a snack, or even go fishing. When you are ready, continue up the last bit to the summit of Thunder Pass.

On top of Thunder Pass enjoy the views into the forbidden land, RMNP. Get ready for the downhill, it will soon put a smile on your face! Head back the way you came.


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Your Check-Ins


Aug 5, 2018
Richard Hackett
Aug 3, 2017
Mike Gonzales
Flat Tire 8.5mi
Aug 14, 2016
David Asselin
With Michigan ditch closed I had to climb up from Colorado State forest (I have parks pass). The climb was work but very rideable. 12.4mi

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 4 votes


  4.8 from 4 votes
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in Colorado


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Greg Durbala
Houston, TX
Greg Durbala   Houston, TX
There is an alternate way down as well. However, it is very steep, loose, rocky and washed out. Instead of retracing your path back down, about halfway across the meadow between the lakes and Thunder Pass, there's a small rock and sign post. You descend from there. You essentially drop off the edge of the upper plateau and plunge straight down. This connects to the same trail you went up, just before the switchbacks. It was sketchy but fun in a "I'm scared sh!tless and just hanging on" kind of way. If you retrace the same path back down, you actually have to climb up a bit before descending. This alternate cuts out that small climb. Use caution! I would mark it as a black diamond trail. Not for a novice. All that said, this area is incredibly beautiful! Jul 20, 2018

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