Trip Report: Day trip to Lake Agnes, Colorado

Since I saw photos of this lakes in the first landscape photography book I ever got I’ve been wanting to visit it and explore the are. Lake Agnes is tucked in Colorado’s State Forest State Park which borders Rocky Mountain National Park to the North. To get there you have to drive from Fort Collins through the Poudre Canyon road and over Cameron Pass. All in all, it’s a 3 hours drive from Denver, no wonder it took me almost 2 years to finally visit the area. The Lake is on a state park and you have to pay an entry fee if you don’t have a Colorado Parks Pass. To get from the summer trailhead to the lake is less than one mile with about 500 ft of elevation gain. This short trails is a really good workout but the views once you get there are totally worth it. I went on a Saturday afternoon in September and there were maybe around 20 people in total, I was expecting to see more people. I guess that being so far away from Denver, and almost 2 hours away from Fort Collins makes this lake a little hidden gem of solitude.

Nokhu Crags from the trail to Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes Sign with the Nokhu Crags in the background.

There's a rock pile to the left at the end of the trail that gives you a pretty amazing view of the basin. Of course as soon as a saw it I went up there. From there you can appreciate the trail that goes around the lake. To the right the trail more or less follows the shore of the lake and goes up the hillside a couple of times giving pretty nice view of the area. To the left, the trail goes through a scree field coming down from the Nokhu Crags. I decided to go right because I thought that there were going to be more photo possibilities that way, plus I was planning to make it to a small tarn up the hillside that I saw in Google Earth when I was scouting the area before. Spoiler alert: I never made it to the tarn.

Lake Agnes Basin from top of the rock pile.

As I walked along the lake I decided to go up the talus in search of compositions with the rocks as foreground. Found this nice spot at which I set my tripod to get a timelapse and the photo below. I took these shots as scouting compositions for later in the day.

Nokhu Crags and Lake Agnes.

Black and White closeup of the Nokhu Crags.

I kept walking along the shore to the side opposite of the trailhead, here I found couple of columbines that I tried to incorporate as foreground in a composition that will work but failed to find something that I was happy with. While I was looking for compositions, a pika came out of the nearby rocks and started making noises, soon another pika joined. These little fellas are something special.

Pikas hanging out in Lake Agnes.

After failing to compose something with the columbines on the foreground I started climbing the talus behind me in search of place to have a commanding view of the lake and its particular island in the water. As I climbed up, I took panorama after panorama with these two being some of my favorite. From the first one I liked the patch of snow that worked as a leading line and the second was more about the light that anything else.

Panoramas from the talus in the back-end of Lake Agnes.

The light started to fade quickly and I found my self high up in the talus. I quickly started descending wanting to be out of the talus before it got too dark. Talus is fun to climb but it can be treacherous if you step in the wrong rock. I made it down to the shore just in time to catch the last light hitting the Nokhu Crags.

Early blue our at the Nokhu Crags from the Shore of Lake Agnes

While coming down the talus I thought about staying for an hour or two after sunset to take photos of the Milky Way over the lake as at this time of year the galaxy’s core rises over the horizon quickly after sunset. The one thing I didn’t check was the moon phase and to my luck it was almost full and in the same place as the core of the galaxy was located. But make lemonade out of lemons they say, right. I took the opportunity to experiment with landscapes lighted by the moon and I wasn’t disappointed. I think I came out with some of my favorite photos in a while.

Moon rises over Lake Agnes.

Moonlight Panorama. 

Moonstar from the rock pile at Lake Agnes.

Lake Agnes is a place that I’ll definitely will come back soon and explore it even more. This area is full of compositions and photo opportunities worth exploring.

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