American Basin (12,920′)

American Basin (12,920′)

The Handies Peak trail to Sloan Lake offers views of American Basin, one of the most scenic basins in the San Juan Mountains. Sloan Lake is home to the threatened Colorado cutthroat trout. Hiking can continue up to Handies Peak, one of five l4,000′ peaks in the area.

StatsRoute DescriptionDirectionsNotes
  • Trailhead:        Handies Peak Trail to Sloan Lake
  • Round trip:      4.6 miles / 7.4 km
  • Elevation:        11,600′-12,920′ (+1,320′) Sloan Lake / 3,536m-3,938m (+402m)

The Handies Peak trail leaves the southeast end of the trailhead parking area and ascends the hillside on the left (east) side of the valley, heading south into the basin. At 3/4 miles the path crosses a stream and then continues the moderate ascent toward the head of the basin.

The path to Sloan Lake turns left (southeast), leaving the valley floor and climbs 325-ft up a moderately steep hillside. At the top of hill the path descends into a shallow basin, crosses the outlet stream for Sloan Lake and then follows a gently ascending grade across rocky meadows. Eventually the path turns south, climbing steep switchbacks 200-ft up to a junction with the trail to Sloan Lake. At the junction a short spur trail drops south to the shores of Sloan Lake (12,930-ft.) while the trail to Handies Peak veers left. The trip to Sloan Lake is well worth your time. The aquamarine lake lies cradled in a rugged cirque, anchored to the southeast by American Peak (13,806-ft.). An imposing jagged ridge rises above the lake’s south shoreline.

4X4 recommended if coming over Cinnamon Pass

The trek to Sloan Lake

Sloan Lake
Sloan Lake

Pictures

  • Early morning at American Basin

    Early morning at American Basin

  • Early morning trail

    Early morning trail

  • Morning views

    Morning views

  • Well maintained trail

    Well maintained trail

  • Incredible views

    Incredible views

  • San Juans

    San Juans

  • Hikers ahead

    Hikers ahead

  • Nearing the top of the basin

    Nearing the top of the basin

  • Looking back into the valley

    Looking back into the valley

  • Snow in the upper basin

    Snow in the upper basin

  • Lake still frozen in summer

    Lake still frozen in summer

  • Handies Peak

    Handies Peak

  • Unstable snow bridges

    Unstable snow bridges

  • Heading back

    heading back

  • American Basin

    American Basin

  • waterfall

    waterfall

  • sunlight and clouds

    sunlight and clouds

  • American Basin

    American Basin

  • Cinnamon Pass

    Cinnamon Pass

  • Road on top is much better than further down

    Road on top is much better than further down

  • Looking at the road ahead

    Looking at the road ahead

  • Heading back

    Heading back

  • Animas Forks below

    Animas Forks below

  • Waterfalls

    Waterfalls

  • Abandoned mine

    Abandoned mine

 

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