Lake Ann, located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, is a spectacular alpine lake surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks. It’s about a 6.4 mile (round trip) hike – although my GPS said it was more – if you can get to the trailhead with a high clearance 4WD vehicle. The lake is at 11,811′ and the hike has a gain of 1,251′.
Even early in the morning (8am) the parking lot was full because there are multiple trailheads here including The 3 Apostles and Mt. Huron (which I plan on hiking to later this summer).
The trail starts out very easy for the first mile or two then begins to climb steadily through the trees. There are few minor stream crossings including a small waterfall. Shortly after the waterfall, the route climbs steeply up the ridge until if finally breaks out of the trees and begins a series of switchbacks up a tundra face with ever increasing views.
The trail forks right before the lake – left takes you to the lake while right heads up to the Continental Divide. I met 1/2 dozen or so thru-hikers while at the lake and on my return hike but only ran into one other person on the way up.
In order to get to Lake Ann you need to go through Winfield, an old mining town – now a ghost town. A sign here explains that the town site of Winfield was 120 acres split into lots of 50×100 which were free to anyone willing to build. It’s believed the first cabin may have been built here as early as 1861, but Winfield reached its peak population in 1890. At the time, it had three saloons, three stores, a post office, mill, smelter, church and school.
The Colorado Historic Society says four of the original log buildings remain including the Ball Cabin and the school. There are also five other cabins built around the 1930s on site. It appears they are privately owned.