Get Outside! Hiking Lake Agnes

Short Hike With Great Rewards

The Basics: 1.6 miles roundtrip 400-ish foot elevation change. (The trails section of the State Park Web site lists the hike as 1,000 foot elevation gain-- I don't agree) Trailhead directions: From Fort Collins, drive 75 miles west on Highway 14. Just after Cameron Pass, watch for the signs to Lake Agnes. Consider driving a 4-wheel drive, after Highway 14, you'll be driving dirt roads that can get rutted. Park entrance fee: $5

The Good: Short hike with good rewards Well maintained trail Bathroom at trailhead Well signed trail

The Bad: Long drive to the trailhead Dirt road to trailhead can get rutted

Forget hiking miles to get to a spectacular lake. I found a beautiful alpine lake that's less than a mile from the trailhead. Granted, instead of a long hike, this trip involves a long drive. State Forest State Park is just past Poudre Canyon, about 75 miles west of Fort Collins. We spent the night in Fort Collins, then drove to the trailhead. You can also camp or stay at a resort in Poudre Canyon. Or try something very unique; stay in a yurt at the state park. There's one very close to this trailhead that makes a great basecamp for exploring the trails in this area. (For more information about the State Forest State Park yurts, click here.

The drive to the trailhead from Fort Collins is very scenic. Poudre canyon follows the Poudre River, the only river in Colorado designated by the National Park Service as "wild and scenic." We especially enjoyed looking at the rapids along the river that we had rafted the day before. (We chose Mountain Whitewater Desecents. Our guide Stan was amazing.)

There are lots of trailheads and hikes in the canyon, but we pressed on knowing Lake Agnes was a good choice for our family; short without too much elevation gain. On this hike, our group ranged in age from 14 to 79 years old. (I gave Dad several days to adjust to the altitude before heading to 11,000+ feet for a hike. Make sure you do the same for our family or visitors) We did stop at the Arrowhead Visitors Center for a break and a picture of Profile Rock. We also stopped at the Bellvue fish hatchery. If you haven't been to a fish hatchery, this was worth a few minutes. Bring quarters to buy food to feed the fish. And make time to stop at Poudre Falls, between mile marker 76 and 75 in the canyon. There's a sign and there's a bit of a social trail to the bottom of the falls. I thought it was worth the time to head down the trail for some photos. (For a nice Web site with a list of possible stops along Poudre Canyon, click here. Poudre Falls along Highway 14 in Poudre Canyon.

Just over Cameron Pass, we spotted the sign for the turnoff to Lake Agnes. A couple hundred yards down the road we stopped at the entrance station, paid our fee, got our permit and headed down the road. There are good signs in this area, but expect dirt roads that can be rutted. We were glad to have 4-wheel drive and felt bad for the truck in front of us with its large camper. They did make it to the trailhead, so maybe we shouldn't feel sorry for them.

The trailhead parking lot was quite full for a weekday, so I'd suggest getting there early. There's a cabin at the trailhead, though it's not open and a bathroom. The bathroom even had signs for men and women-- rare at a trailhead.

The trail is very easy to follow. There are signs at the start and several places along the way. I love knowing how far I have left to hike, so it was nice to see a sign 0.3 of the way in and again just 0.1 of a mile before the lake. There is some climbing. The trail has some stairs along the way, even though it's short, we took a couple breaks to let my Dad rest. There's a nice cascade view along part of the trail to look at. We even saw snow above the cascade in August. The Crags, peaks near Lake Agnes.

Then you arrive at the lake. What a pleasant surprise. Even though we only hiked 0.8 miles, the lake looked like many I've taken hours to hike to. There are high mountain peaks surrounding the lake, beautiful water, even an island that my Dad wanted to explore and we found several fisherman looking for lunch. We took pictures, we talked to the fisherman and other tourists and a couple of us even napped on the shoreline. It was so pretty and peaceful, my Dad didn't want to leave. I figure that's the best recommendation, when visitors want to stay as long as possible.

If you have a hiking trail suggestion, questions or comments, e-mail me,

Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star) Boulder: Caribou Ranch*, Mallory Cave*, Marshall Mesa,Heil Valley Ranch* Forsythe Canyon*, South Boulder Peak*, The Boulder Flatirons*, Walker Ranch*, Bear Peak*, Rabbit Mountain*, Bald Mountain*, Betasso Preserve*, Wonderland Lake* Golden area: Forgotten Valley, Chimney Gulch*, Apex Park* Jefferson County: Mt. Falcon*, Elk Meadow* I-70 area: Herman Gulch, Chicago Lakes, Chief Mountain Rocky Mountain National Park: Granite Falls, Twin Sisters, Bierstadt Lake, Chasm Lake, Lulu City & Little Yellowstone, The Loch, Andrew's Glacier, Sandbeach Lake Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness: King, Bob & Betty Lakes, Forest Lakes, Arapaho Lakes, Mitchell & Blue Lakes, James Peak Area, Heart Lake Northern Colorado: Homestead Meadows, Devil's Backbone* Summit & Eagle Counties: Booth Falls, Missouri Lakes, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls Grand County: St Louis Lake, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby Ranch Other: Exploring Fulford Cave, Our Favorite Hikes, Our Favorite Bike Rides

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