Lake Agnes is one of the most beautiful places in Poudre Canyon and it’s less than a mile hike each way to get to the lakeshore.
The hike starts 1.8 miles off Highway 14 in Poudre Canyon (directions below). At the trailhead, there are bathrooms, a picnic table and an historic cabin that is closed to the public. A sign at the trailhead says Lake Agnes is .8 miles away and it’s correct.
Take the single-person wide, dirt path past the cabin and bathrooms and past a scenic meadow. As you hike through the meadow, you’ll likely see the striking cliffs above you. The craggy peaks above you are the Nokhu Crags and Lake Agnes sits in a bowl below those peaks. Just a tenth of a mile or so from the parking lot, the trail turns into the forest and you’ll be hiking in the forest the rest of the way.
As you hike, you may notice some 180 degree turns along the way. These are called switchbacks. The trail switchbacks up the mountainside instead of going straight up to prevent erosion and make it easier to hike up to the lake.
About a third of a mile from the trailhead, you’ll come to a sign that says you’ve hiked 0.3 miles and have a half mile to go. If it feels like you’ve hiked further than that, there’s a reason. You’re hiking at 10,400 feet. The air is a lot thinner up here and you’ve been hiking up stairs at times on this trail. The elevation you’re at and the elevation gain make the hike harder, but keep going. Just take a break when you need to.
A short distance away, you may start hearing water like a waterfall. Soon you’ll see that you’re hiking next to a canyon/valley. Take a peak in the canyon, but if you don’t see anything, don’t worry. As you get higher, you’ll get a couple more views of that valley and the waterfall in it. The waterfall is the outflow of Lake Agnes so in early summer, it’s gushing and in late summer, it’s not.
As you get closer to the lake, just keep following the signs until you’re at the shoreline. Once there, you’ll like be impressed with the beautiful lake, the interesting peaks around the lake and the ISLAND in the lake! This is a cool place.
When I visited with family on my first trip here, we took lots of photos and a nap at the lake. If you come with experienced hikers who want more, there is a one mile trail around the lake. However, I would recommend that trail for experienced hikers only. Much of the hike is on scree (rocks) that is slippery and moving. There’s some rock scrambling, too. While it was great seeing this lake and the peaks from different angles, I was surprised at how slippery the rocks were around the shore. When you’re done exploring, or napping, return the way you came.
Details: The hike to Lake Agnes and back is 1.6 miles roundtrip with 400 feet of elevation gain. The loop around the lake adds another mile.
If you’re looking for hiking in Poudre Canyon, check out the B-17 crash site and Lake Zimmerman. Find more Poudre Canyon hikes and hikes across the state in this list of 400+ Colorado hiking trails. Don’t miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the bottom of this article and follow me on Facebook.
Directions: From I-25, take Highway 14 through Fort Collins. When Highway 14 takes a left turn at Ted’s Place (a gas station), reset your odometer. It’s about 59 miles to the Top of Cameron Pass. Go over the top of the pass and drive another 2.4 miles to the Lake Agnes turnoff. Take the rough, dirt road about 1.8 miles to the trailhead.