Enjoy up-close, breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan’s west face, along with views of Fisher Chimney, the upper and lower Curtis Glacier, as well as Mount Baker from the trail to Lake Ann. The lake in a rocky basin, in the midst of this spectacular scenery. On some days you can hear ice echoing through the valley as it crashes down the face of Mount Shuksan. This is a late season hike, as snow can linger here into August.
If you plan on camping, know that all campers must be at least two miles from the trailhead between May 15 and November 14.
The trail begins just below Artist Point and is well marked from a paved parking lot. Start your hike by descending on switchbacks through sub-alpine forest. Soon you will reach a sign indicating you are entering the Mt. Baker Wilderness.
After entering the wilderness, the trail briefly opens up to a picturesque alpine basin. As you descend, the trail levels out and you hike through boulder fields, dried-up creek beds, meadows, wildflowers, and clear running streams. This area is part of the headwaters of Swift Creek. As you look ahead of you, you will see Mount Shuksan and your destination across the basin. On your left is Shuksan Arm.
Up to this point in the hike the trail can be rocky and root filled, but soon you will enter sub-alpine forest on an easy, level, and well maintained trail, catching peek-a-boo glimpses of Baker and Shuksan. The trail briefly breaks out into the open right before the Swift Creek trailhead. Here there is a privy available and you can see the unmaintained Swift Creek trail on your right. From this junction, you will start ascending, re-entering sub-alpine forest with views of Mount Baker.
After re-emerging from the forest, look across the basin at your starting point. Here you'll have views of Artist Point, the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail, and spectacular views of Baker. Continue ascending on talus slopes, heather meadows, and rocky basins, listening for the squeak of pikas and whistles from marmots. Enjoy wildflower displays that surround you as your views of Baker start to recede. But never fear--soon you'll see the tops of Mount Shuksan and Fisher Chimney on your approach to the saddle above Lake Ann. The approach before the saddle can hold snowfields until well into August, so be prepared for snow travel.
Peer down at Lake Ann from the saddle. As you continue down, Lake Ann will be on your right and you will come to a 'T'. The trail to the right will lead down to Lake Ann, complete with camping spots and a climber's path that will take you to the foot of Lower Curtis Glacier; the Fisher Chimney climbing route for Mount Shuksan. The real prize at this junction of the trail is directly in front of you, though--an up-close and personal view of the west face of Mount Shuksan. Take in this awe-inspiring sight before continuing down to the lake or take the path to Lower Curtis Glacier.
If you continue to Curtis Glacier, you will enter North Cascades National Park. As you skirt around the end of the valley you'll enjoy a view of Baker Lake on your right and another camping opportunity on the left.
WTA Pro Tip: Lake Ann is a great hike, but due to the incredible views and relatively moderate trail, it can be quite crowded. If you're considering going, remember to abide by Leave No Trace ethics, particularly if your visit as an overnighter.