Lake Agnes State Forest
Location: Rocky Mountains/Steamboat Springs/Colorado/USA
Note: Any time the overall goal of your hike is found in a place that looks like a scene out of Avatar, you really can’t lose. “Avatar-type” places are the icing-on-the-cake of a well planned expedition, so absolutely “pencil-in” trips with extraordinary natural features. I penciled-in Lake Agnes State Forest just a few days before I arrived, looking over google maps with a friend, and received the Avatar-type ending we were hoping for, in spades. Just look at this scene! The view from the Trailhead could easily be mistaken for nothing less than the Swiss Alps; but it’s not the Alps, it’s the Colorado Rockies. Make sure you bring the cameras for this one..
To Trailhead: Unlike Mount Clark or Bear Mountain, for Lake Agnes you will not need a 4X4 vehicle to reach the Trailhead, a regular car will do fine. Coming from Walden Colorado (an Americana hamlet and biker haven nestled just south of Wyoming, in the heart of Medicine Bow National Park). You can take Route 14 South almost the entire drive, following Little Muddy Creek the entire way on the right. After about 35 minutes, merge onto Route 40 South, and take it just a few miles before turning Right onto Road 186, the final country lane before reaching the Trailhead, with vehicles parked near the entrance. The low-maintenance aspect of getting to Lake Agnes is one of its draws, along with the comfortable half-day-or-less distance of the beautiful hike.
Lower Trail: The initial trail is a tunnel of tall and pristine Pine trees, regal in strength and height. With the mountain views at the first segment of the hike, it’s a wonder people continue to the next phase at all, with these massive jade colored peaks, and mesmerizing forest, beckoning the cameras. A profound view of Mount Baker, sitting several miles to the north, comes into view as you begin the 45 minute climb required of you. Each switchback-porch gives a slightly better angle on the mountains beyond.The trail continues around Lake Agnes, and back again, requiring a short trek through beautiful glades, with a path running directly over a rockslide on the edge of the Lake. The cliffs are streamline and massive. The scale of the mountain ridges are humbling beyond measure. The trailhead opening of Lake Agnes is a truly majestic scene, with a 100 yard field of velvet wildflowers pointing straight at Mount Baker to the North, which was glowing like an earthen-colored diamond. The image below is a wonderful example of how the Trail looks heading into the forest. The trees are vibrant and sturdy beyond measure, while the mossy forest-floor practically glows on a sunny day. It is quintessential forest, much deeper and more dangerous than any Celtic woods. Brown Bears are out there. Make plenty of noise on a trail; let them know you’re out there. You simply don’t want to startle any creatures of the forest. If you do come across a Brown Bear unexpectedly, do not make eye-contact, stay as calm as you can, and back away slowly and silently. (Studying up on wildlife encounters in the region(s) you are visiting is of course always a good idea) The eastern side of the dell at Lake Agnes is a phalanx of cliff-faces and striking rock facades. To the west, the valley rolls down in an ocean of green. (Image/Below) The Upper Trail: Welcome to the higher elevations of Colorado in July, where snow remains on the heights of the upper vale, even while the forest is in full-bloom. The water here is so clear that it reflects vividly, like a lens, curious combinations of snow white, forest-green, avalanche-grey, and blue sky. This a virtual stadium of natural perfection, where the upper-deck is hard blue stone, and the lower section a universe of sliding rocks capped with indents of glowing snow along the highest ridges. Lakes Agnes Trail is a cozily short ‘loop-trail’, only bout 3.5 miles in length. The first portion of the trail is a fairly challenging 45 minute climb to the Lake inclosure, sitting 10,290 magical feet above Sea-Level. Up here you can really feel the elevation. If you continue the woodsy loop around the Lake you will see how the small pond actually changes colors from different perspectives. The initial look of the pool looks like a deep, yet radiant blue (Image/Top), but change the angle further up the trail, and it becomes a solid green, as depicted in the image below. This is truly a wonderful place
There are many stones with markings that look like linear sections which were cut smoothly, across the rock face. (Image/Below) This section reminded me of a curious solitary stone with strangely marked sections at The Blue Hills Trail in New England, some 2000 miles away. (Image/Below) The sections of the New England stone is not linear, but clearly chiseled, with the small sections that were cut away sitting all around the boulder. How di these markings and results happen?
The phenomenon of stones that seem to be blatantly crafted is no fluke. There are extreme examples of this phenomenon in many other places across the globe, many of which are noted here at Stonestrider.com. But this was the limit to what I saw of signs which seemed related to the Neolithic Culture. For the most part Lake Agnes itself is the jewel of this excursion. If you come to northern Colorado this would be a great trail to begin with as a warm up for the other mountains of The Rockies. When you get to the Lake yo will understand. Don’t just seek it out, find it out. You’ll be glad that you did. Thanks for reading, and go strong.