Hike to Lake Agnes

Colorado Lake Agnes Trailhead, State Forest SP

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Lake Agnes, in State Forest State Park, should be on your “why shouldn’t I do this trail” list. It’s short and filled with fantastic views without a whole lot of effort. Along the short trail, you see a historic cabin, rugged crags, and an incredible alpine lake.

In State Forest State Park, you start at Agnes Cabin, a historic cabin built in 1925. Because of its rustic architecture, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. It is a one-story, lodge pole pine log cabin. The cabin is empty, but peek inside and you can see the flooring is made of pine wood planks. The cabin was occupied seasonally by forest and park ranger from 1925 to 2000. In the later years of use, it was also a rental cabin. The cabin has been closed since 2000. Park personnel have maintained the building since the early 1970s.

On the trail, you immediately pass a large meadow. You will quickly find out, this trail is short but it has a lot to see including crags. Nokhu Crags is an outcropping of craggy spires that look like towers. They are named after a shortened Arapahoe name, Neaha-no-xhu, which means “Eagles Nest.”

The trail is a series of switchbacks and is well mark. It does get a little rocky in spots, but is very easy to maneuver. About three-quarters of the way up, you get a fantastic view of the Nokhu Crags, a rockslide, and down valley. You can barely see Highway 14 in the distance.

Nestled in a cirque, Lake Agnes sits at 10,320 feet. Take your fishing gear as fly and lure fishing are allowed. Even on a gray cloudy day, Lake Agnes is stunning. There is a lot to explore so spend time hiking around the lake.

Just off the lake is a short trail by the scree field. Take it to an overlook spot for a great view of the valley. As you hike the rocky trail back, you get an entirely different view of the lake than the view from the main trail.

Hike down to the water’s edge. If the sun is out, you might see the lake sparkle a little. It’s really not a bad spot to sit, fish, picnic, or just daydream.

One of the most unique features of this alpine lake is the tree covered island in the middle. The lake was originally named Island Lake but John Zimmerman changed the name to honor one of his daughters, Agnes. Zimmerman and his brother were miners in the Elkhorn and North Star mines in the Poudre Canyon. They opened the Keystone Hotel in 1882. The cabin at the trailhead was supposed to be part of a boy’s camp. But a little boy drowned in the lake and the camp never reopened.

If you hike the trail in summer or fall, it is .8 miles with an elevation gain of 400. You can snowshoe the trail in winter, but it is longer. For winter it is 2.5 miles one-way with an elevation gain of 1000 feet.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks or picnic
  • Jacket - it can be windy and cold at the lake
  • Camera
  • Fishing gear
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Activities:

Fishing, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

1.6 Miles

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

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How to Get There

over 1 year ago

Difficult for a Winter hike

I found this to be a difficult hike during the winter . The snow was chest to shoulder deep and adding the elevation gain made it tough. Snowshoes or ski's are a must if you're trying to reach the lake, otherwise you will sink in the snow & won't be able to make it. Gorgeous views and hardly many people on the trail. More backcountry skiers on the trail, so be aware of the avalanche danger & pack accordingly for a winter hike with those safety items.

over 1 year ago

Added by Jennifer Broome

I'm the traveling weather chick. I'm a television meteorologist, host and reporter based in Denver. I'm a weather expert and travel expert. I'm also a travel writer. I love travel, weather, adventure, outdoors, food, wine, fitness, hiking, skiing, and yoga.

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