Access: From Winthrop take Highway 20 towards Rainy Pass. Near milepost 158, turn off Highway 20 into the south parking lot at Rainy Pass. The trail begins one-tenth of a mile east of the parking lot.
Fees: A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking at these trailheads ($5 daily, $30 annual pass). A daily pass can be purchased at the trailhead.
Restrictions: No overnight camping within a quarter mile of Lake Ann, Heather Pass or Maple Pass.
Allowed: Hiking only
Length: 1.9 miles to Lake Ann and 3.1 miles to Maple Pass
Elevation gain: 1,800 feet; from 4,800 feet at the trailhead to 6,600 feet at Maple Pass.
Season: The best time of year to visit this trail is from mid-July to early October, depending on snow. Note: The area got hit with snow on Monday, so check conditions before you hit the trail.
What you will see: The Lake Ann Trail is an easy day hike suited for families with young children and for those looking for a shorter, easier trip. The trail begins in old growth timber, passes through dense forest, and crosses an open avalanche path where the high shrill call of the Pika (a small chinchilla-like animal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and short tail) can be heard rising from talus slopes on both sides of the basin. The trail continues winding through more timber to a junction with the side trail to Lake Ann. Discoveries of small ponds, sweet tasting huckleberries and a lake stocked with cutthroat trout nestled under a tall craggy rock peak only add to this adventure.
The hike beyond Lake Ann to Heather and Maple Passes is a little steeper but the views are incredible and well worth the extra time. From Heather Pass one can see a small body of ice called Lewis Glacier. A rougher trail leads off toward Lewis Lake. Experienced hikers can follow cross-country routes from Heather Pass to Lewis Lake and Wing Lakes seen in the distance under Black Peak. From Maple Pass follow the ridge to Frisco Mountain. Mark this as a favorite short hike that offers awesome North Cascade mountain views, glaciers, alpine lakes, wildlife, wildflowers, blueberries and more.
Caution: Black bears have been seen in the area. Seeing a bear is an exciting and memorable experience. Most conflicts between people and bears are the result of people approaching and or feeding them in some way. When leaving your car parked for any length of time be sure to tightly close all windows and leave any food in the trunk. If camping, leave your camp and tent free of food. Cache food suspended between two trees (15 feet from the ground, five feet from any tree trunk) and 100 yards from your tent. When hiking, watch bears from a safe distance and don’t allow your dog to run free, it may lead a bear back to you. Never approach a bear and never feed a bear.
Information: Methow Valley Ranger District, (509) 996-4000