Earlier this week, I was invited to go on a day trip to Lake Ann with some fellow geocachers. This was my third trip to the lake and it never seems to get old! Towering peaks all around. Mount Shuksan is so close you can almost touch it. Beautiful alpine lake. Lush, forested valleys. Ice blue glaciers. And all the blueberries and huckleberries you can eat (when they’re in season)! It will always be one of my favorites.
In the past, I’ve always done this hike as an overnight trip, which I prefer since it gives you the chance to watch the sunset/sunrise in the shadows of two dramatic mountains. From the car, it’s a good 4 miles from the lake with 1900 feet in elevation gain. Definitely not a hard hike, but when you have 30 lbs of camping gear on your back it can be quite of a workout! This time we did it as a day hike. Since I only had a camera and some water/snacks with me, things went by a lot quicker this time around.
We started out early in the morning, expecting a lot of haze with all the wildfires going on in the state right now. Fortunately, a light wind kept the smoke at bay and it was another clear sunny day. We took a quick detour up to Artist Point to find a cache before starting out at the Lake Ann trailhead. From the parking lot, the path gently descends 800 feet over two miles through a lush valley and quite woodlands with several creek crossings. The trail reaches the lowest point at Swift Creek–a good spot for a break. From there it starts climbing up through a series of switchbacks and rock gardens all the way to a saddle, which serves as the gateway to the lake.
At the top of the hill, Lake Ann comes into view. Mount Shuksan towers overhead in the background. The lake itself was still partially frozen over, which is unusual considering it was mid-September. From here, there are a lot of places you can go. Most people stay on the main trail and head on down the the lake shore. Another option would be to climb the surrounding hills–which is what we did. As you approach the lake, there is a trail off to the left that leads you uphill to a really nice, secluded campsite. I camped up there with a few friends of mine on my last visit. With Mount Baker to the north and Mount Shuksan practically in the backyard, it’s pretty spectacular. Back to the lake, you can also take a right climb the knoll to the west. The trail is steep, but the views are worth it. One of my favorite places to watch the sunset!
One other thing I would recommend for future visitors is to take the trail out to the Lower Curtis Glacier on Mount Shuksan. It’s another 45 minute walk, but totally worth it. There aren’t many places on Earth where you can actually walk on a river of ice! Since we didn’t have enough time, we forwent the detour to the glacier and found a nice spot to enjoy lunch by the lake before returning back to the car. On the way back home, we made a stop at the infamous Picture Lake to get a few photos.
I’ll be heading down to Utah in early October, so expect a change of scenery here in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading!