Whether you like to hike, backpack, camp, fish, trail run or back country ski, Silver Lake in American Fork Canyon is definitely worth exploring. From the trailhead at Silver Lake Flat to Silver Lake is a 2.4 mile hike(one way) or ski that climbs just over 1500 feet. While steep in some spots, the trail makes its way through pine trees, open meadows with wild flowers and crosses a gently flowing stream a couple of times. The picturesque views of Timpanogos and lower American Fork canyon are a reward well worth the effort.
To get to the Silver Lake Trailhead go up American Fork Canyon. A few miles after Timpanogos cave you will come to a fork in the road, take the left fork towards Tibble Fork reservoir. When you arrive at Tibble Fork, take the road at the east end of the parking lot and head left toward Granite Flats campground. Follow the paved road past the horse trailer parking and turn right onto the dirt road.
The road is marked with a sign that points the way to Silver Lake Flats. The road gains quite a bit of elevation as it switchbacks up the hillside. The road is in decent condition and can be navigated by 2 wheel drive vehicles, as long as you drive slow, but I would recommend a higher clearance vehicle, with 4 wheel drive in inclement weather. The road goes about 3 miles until you reach lower Silver Lake Flat. Here you will find a small lake, restrooms and a map of the area at the trailhead.
The trail begins in the pines and is shaded for the first .75 miles. About a half mile into the hike you will enter designated wilderness area where only travel on foot(or ski) is permitted. Soon after entering the wilderness area the trail leaves the trees and starts climbing up several hills as you make your way up to Silver Lake.
The trail crosses a mountain stream multiple times as you move back and forth across the small valley on your way up to the lake. The river can be crossed without getting wet using some makeshift bridges made from logs, except for early spring when there is a lot of run-off.
As you get closer to the lake the trail gets steeper, with the steepest part being right before you crest the top of the last hill where Silver Lake awaits below. While there are a few side trails that come off the main trail, if you stick to the trail that heads up canyon you will be fine. The trail gains 1455 feet of elevation over 2.4 miles making it a challenging climb, so be sure to bring some water and snacks to fuel your efforts. This trail provides some great views along the way, so have your camera handy as you are walking.
Silver Lake is a small, but pristine lake. You can easily walk around the entire lake in 15-20 minutes. It is a popular spot for fisherman and hikers. It is not unusual to see back packers camping around the lake, as the area has some great camping spots.
Due to its high elevation the lake is pretty cold, and I have never seen anyone brave enough to try swimming in the lake. The lake is set down in a bit of a crater as well, so upon reaching the lake you need to hike down 15-20 feet to reach the shore. Trails continue up higher beyond the lake if you are looking for more of a workout, but for most this is a great place to enjoy the scenery and solitude of nature.
This is a great hike in late spring, summer and fall and makes for some great back country skiing in the winter. If you found this article helpful, consider signing up for our e-mail list (simply go to the top of page and click subscribe - it's free!) to get the latest adventure posts. You can also sign up to be a member here to share your comments at the bottom of each post and in the forum - we'd love to hear what you think about this hike. Most importantly don't forget to get outside and find your adventure!