You are here: Home Find a Hike Hiking Guide American Lake

American Lake

» REI » Amazon

A portion of all book sales from the links above benefits WTA and helps protect and maintain our trails.

William O. Douglas stands as Washington's greatest son. Douglas's lasting claim to greatness is his tenure as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, but he was first and foremost a man of the wilderness. He was a tireless advocate for wildlands, a prolific author of exquisite wilderness adventure narratives and natural history essays, and a lifelong hiker--despite a childhood malady that nearly rendered him an invalid. Douglas refused to submit to illness and took to hiking the hills of the eastern Cascades. By early adulthood he was exploring all the wild country between what are now State Route 410 and US 12--lands that today are protected as the William O. Douglas Wilderness. Hiking American Ridge to American Lake you may find yourself feasting in the same huckleberry fields Douglas himself once enjoyed.

This hike starts as does to Dewey Lake. Follow a connector trail on the south side of the highway for 1.5 miles to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Stunning alpine meadows and scenic panoramas unfold along this section of trail, setting high expectations for the rest of the hike.

The Naches Peak Loop goes left at the junction. Turn right (south) instead, and descend 600 feet in the next 1.3 miles, passing through old, sun-dappled pine and fir forest to reach a small forest clearing on the northwest shore of Dewey Lake. From the southeast end of the lake the trail rolls gently south, cutting through huge expanses of huckleberry meadows--excellent places to savor the essence of pine forest. Just be aware that hungry bears also like to gobble the juicy fruit.

You'll reach Anderson Lake at 5 miles. The trail then climbs gently for the next mile, rolling along the western flank of a small unnamed peak (elev. 5982 ft) before reaching the junction with the American Ridge Trail at 6 miles.

Continue east along the ridge for about 1 mile to American Lake, where you'll enjoy more huckleberry fields and scenery that includes a rocky pinnacle to the south and the deep valley of the American River to the north.
Driving Directions:

From Enumclaw drive east on State Route 410 (Chinook Pass High-way) to Chinook Pass. Park on the north side of the highway in the Tipsoo Lake parking area. Cross to the south side of the highway to find the start of the trail.

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

Hiked here recently? Submit a trip report!
There are 10 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
American Lake — Aug 16, 2013 — Eireen
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
Expand report text Hide report text
An excellent hike! My husband and I decided to do a sort of spur of the moment two-night out hike an...
An excellent hike! My husband and I decided to do a sort of spur of the moment two-night out hike and we brought our dog with us. Spent the first night at smaller Dewey Lake (more private than the ones at the bigger Dewey Lake) and then hiked on Saturday to American Lake. It turned out American Lake was pretty crowded when we arrived in the afternoon, so we had to find a campsite a little ways away from the lake.

All in all a beautiful hike and we really enjoyed it. The trail has plenty of opportunities for good lunch/break spots, which made it a nice, relaxing hike. We took it easy, just enjoying the hike with our dog and admiring the sights.

The flowers are still mostly in bloom, providing lots of beautiful sights and photo opportunities. We also enjoyed a peek at Mt.Rainier in the distance. There are also some ripe blueberries still left, and our dog learned how to pick them for himself ;)

Be prepared for a lot of bugs, unfortunately, they are quite a nuisance.

Also, at American Lake we were going to get some water from the spring going into the lake, when we noticed that someone must have scattered human ashes into it right above where you would get your water from :( We were too creeped out to get the water from the stream after we saw it.
Read full report with photos
American Lake — Aug 10, 2013 — keeganburmark
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
Expand report text Hide report text
Just one piece of advice about an otherwise great trip! If you are taking a dog you'll need to park...
Just one piece of advice about an otherwise great trip! If you are taking a dog you'll need to park at the Summit parking lot (National Forest) as opposed to the suggested Tipasoo Parking Lot (National Park). This mistake led to a $75 fine because the first .75 miles of trail from the Tipasoo lot are off-limits to dogs.

Other than that, I recommend climbing some of the high rocky mountains above American Lake for breathtaking 360 degree views!
Read full report
American Lake, Cougar Lakes — Aug 31, 2012 — JHPearce
Multi-night backpack
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Expand report text Hide report text
*Lost Gold Ring* - Our party approximates we likely lost this family heirloom somewhere between Litt...
*Lost Gold Ring* - Our party approximates we likely lost this family heirloom somewhere between Little Cougar Lake and American Lake on trails 958 and 958A. Please contact me via the comments if you happen to find it (crossing our backcountry fingers the power of WTA will come through).

Having tackled this hike a couple years ago, I knew this would be a great trip for a new comer to backpacking. Our crew was a party of three plus one dog. Arrived to a surprisingly quiet Chinook Pass parking lot at 9:45 Friday. Our plan to stake our claim early this holiday weekend was already playing out in our favor. Weather was terrific on our hike in, headed south bound around 10:00 AM. A few day hikers were about at the Naches Loop, while Dewey lake was surprisingly empty. Had a late morning snack at the lake then pressed on to our planned camp. The PCT was is great condition the whole way albeit a bit dusty. Peek-a-boo views of Rainier teased us along the west side of the ridge from Anderson lake. The mountain was a glorious sight along this last climb prior to our decent to American Lake. We set up camp around 1:30 along the south eastern end of the lake. Although a bit shady in the afternoon, this is hands down the most private of all the sites and well away from the trail. There was napping, there was snacking, and of course laughing. Dinner, campfire, and the rise of the BLUE MOON was truly magical.

Morning came with a frost laden camp and cooler temperatures than I suspected. We slept in and did not hold to any sort of schedule for the remainder of the day. Headed out to Cougar Lakes for the day for some swimming. Plenty of ripe berries along the trail. Once we arrived a Little Cougar Lake we traversed to the north shore. Came some across some fresh berry rich bear scat. Now out of the trees I keep my eyes up slope. Sure enough a medium sized black bear's curious eyes and ears were following our approach to the water. After some mutual gawking from afar, we parted ways. There is an excellent rock slab over a nice deep pool on this side of the lake. It was a bit windy so taking a dunk took some courage. The plunge was well worth it. While exiting the basin, several parties we entering to make camp. There are ample sites between the lakes, as well as east above the large camp on east end of Little Cougar.

Back at American Lake, we watched the sunset while thin clouds dappled in the lake's reflection. Another moon rise, this time shrouded in clouds made for a mysterious night in camp.

We left our camp around 11:30 on Sunday, the hike out was quiet until the Dewey Lake basin. Holiday hikers, fisherman, and families were out in force. Awesome seeing so many folks enjoying Washington's wilderness. We arrived back at the pass around 4:00.
Read full report with photos
American Lake, American Ridge — Aug 25, 2012 — curious george
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
Expand report text Hide report text
I did this hike 2 years ago as a day hike and love it, so i decided to bring the wife and dog this t...
I did this hike 2 years ago as a day hike and love it, so i decided to bring the wife and dog this time and stay overnight. Started hiking at about 11:00, chinook pass was crowded! the upper parking lot was full and had to park by the pedestrian bridge on the side of 410.
the first part of the trail was crowded due to alot of people doing the naches loop trail, but once be started to descend to dewey lake the crowd got less and less. wildflowers were everwhere (sorry don't know the names)! seemed i was little late for the huckleberries but did manage to find a few. after passing dewey lake the trail is pretty flat, a few up and downs but nothing serious. got to american lake early afternoon setup camp and took and little swim. enjoyed a summer star-filled night and left after breakfast.
Read full report with photos
American Lake, Pacific Crest Trail - short segment — Sep 10, 2011 — Trees
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
Expand report text Hide report text
Hiked from Tipsoo Lake/Naches Peak Loop trail to American Lake via the Dewey Lake trail, Pacific Cre...
Hiked from Tipsoo Lake/Naches Peak Loop trail to American Lake via the Dewey Lake trail, Pacific Crest Trail. We had gorgeous weather and the wildflowers were amazing! I couldn't have asked for more! The hike is a bit more strenuous than the statistics would have you believe. The ups and downs are steeper than I expected so the total elevation gain was substantially more than the 1500' difference from start to finish. I would rather have spent a resting day at the lake than hiked back out the very next day. It was so pretty and that would have been easy to do. Muskitoes and flies were out, but I used dryer sheets (in my pockets - someone told me it would work) and bug spray and I escaped fairly unharmed by them. There is one downed tree to cross over just after Dewey lake, but it is easy to pass over. No snow!
Read full report with photos
American Lake small.jpg
American Lake. Photo by Cruiznbye.
Location
South Cascades -- Chinook Pass - Enumclaw or Hwy 410 area
Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, Naches Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 14.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1000 ft
Highest Point 5700 ft
Features
Lakes
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
Established campsites
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Snoqualmie Pass
Green Trails Mount Rainier East No. 270 and Bumping Lake No. 271

Improve or add to this guidebook entry

Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Map it
Red MarkerAmerican Lake
46.8694 -121.51965
(46.8694, -121.5196) Open in new window
Document Actions
  • Print this
  • Share
Get the Guidebooks

Mountaineers three booksSelect content from The Mountaineers Books' guidebooks is featured in this Hiking Guide. Sales of the books from this website help protect and maintain trails.

> Shop Now

More hikes » Hike of the Week
Columbia Hills State Park (Apr 24)

Columbia Hills State Park

South Cascades

From Dalles Mountain Ranch to Horsethief Butte, the rolling hills along the the Columbia River Gorge are blanketed in spring flowers. Ramble along until you find the perfect picnic spot on more than 12 miles of hiking trails. A meadowlark might even serenade you.

Get Trail News

Subscribe to our free email newsletter for hiking news, events, gear reviews and more.

What's Happening
GiveBIG 2014 May 06, 2014 Donate to WTA during The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event and grow your impact on trails!
Hiker Potluck in Vancouver May 28, 2014 Come out for an evening of great food, meet other hikers and learn what is happening on trails near you.
More »