Lake Ann
excerpts from the book
Incredible Backcountry Trails 
by David Day

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Incredible Backcountry Trails
  • access info for 120 trailheads
  • 90 colorful trail maps
  • 305 full color photographs
  • loads of hiking tips
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    Distance: 7.0 miles (round trip)

    Walking time: 4 3/4 hours

    : 1,260 ft. gain/loss
       South Clear Creek Trailhead (start): 10,565 ft.
       Lake Ann: 11,805 ft.

    Trail: well marked, easy to follow

    Season: Midsummer through mid-fall. The higher parts of the trail are usually covered with snow from November through early July.

    Vicinity: Near Leadville

    Lake AnnLake Ann


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    Lake Ann is an alpine gem that lies just south of the Continental Divide and west of three picturesque summits known as the Three Apostles. The lake is also on the Continental Divide Trail; consequently it is a popular camping area for summer backpackers. From Lake Ann the trail climbs another 800 feet to the top of the Divide and then drops down its south side towards Illinois Creek. For those that seek more solitude than the Lake Ann Trail can provide there are two other short spur trails along the way, one leading to the Three Apostles Basin east of Ann Lake and the other leading to Harrison Flats on the west side of the lake. Harrison Flats also contains two additional unnamed lakes.

    For the first 1.5 miles the trail follows the South Fork of Clear Creek through a very pretty valley with Huron Peak above the east side and Granite Mountain to the west. Huron Peak, with an elevation of 14,003 feet, is one of Coloradoís two lowest fourteen-thousand-foot peaks. The trail to the top of Huron leaves from the same trailhead as Lake Ann (see page 207), and if you see other cars in the parking area the chances are they belong to peak baggers looking for an easy fourteener to climb.

    After walking for 20 minutes you will pass by an old minerís cabin 60 feet from the left side of the trail. The cabin is located about 200 yards north of the Forest Service sign that marks the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness boundary. Unfortunately, all that is left of the cabin now are the first three rows of logs at the bottom of the four walls. There is at least one other cabin further up the Lake Ann Trail. The second one is located on the opposite side of the creek 0.7 mile beyond the first. Although the second cabin is 100 yards from the right side of the trail it is easy to spot if you are paying attention.

    Just 3 minutes beyond the second cabin the trail arrives at a junction with the Lake Ann trail departing on the right. The trail on the left continues to follow the South Fork of Clear Creek for another 1.0 mile to a steep basin on the north side of the Three Apostles. The basin is very pretty, but the best views of the Apostles lie closer to the trail junction. The problem is that the Three Apostles Basin trail ends so close to the ridge that it is impossible to see all three of the summits at one time.

    Continuing on the trail to Lake Ann the path crosses the South Fork of Clear Creek just 50 feet from the junction, and from there it follows the Lake Ann drainage the last 1.8 miles to the lake. Unlike the first half of the hike, the trail above the junction is immersed in a forest of spruce and subalpine fir, so the views are limited. There are, however, a couple of nice cascades along the way. One particularly nice waterfall is located 0.8 mile from the junction. Look for a hiker-made trail on the left that leads to a viewpoint below the fall just 30 feet from the main trail.

    Finally, 300 yards before reaching the lake the trail crosses timberline and climbs the last 80 feet through a treeless alpine meadow of grass and wildflowers. Two short spur trails leave the main trail at this point: the left spur drops down the last 150 yards to Lake Ann, and the right spur heads west toward Harrison Flats.

    Lake Ann lies directly below a rugged 13,000-foot ridge that in this area defines the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide Trail continues up toward a pass on the right, and if you are in the mood for another 800 feet of climbing there is a great view of Mount Huron and Lake Ann from the pass. One of the Three Apostles is visible from the lake, but unfortunately the other two summits are too far to the east to be seen.

    The book includes more text, more photographs, and trail maps.

    If you are interested in a supplemental map of the Lake Ann Trail
    we recommend:
    Buena Vista - Collegiate Peaks  (Trails Illustrated, map #129)

    Click here for DISCOUNTED MAP ORDERS

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