Lake Ann: Trail provides view of glaciers

The trail to Lake Ann brings hikers into proximity with Mount Shuksan's hanging glaciers.

Elevation gain: 1,000 feet.

Round trip: 8 miles.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Best times to hike: August through September.

Current conditions: Trail is clear.

Permits: Northwest Forest Pass required.

Highlights: Pikas watch hikers progress through flower-lined meadows. These mountain creatures, related to rabbits, spend their summer making hay to sustain them while they spend the winter in tunnels beneath the snow.

The climax comes at the end of the trail, when it skirts past Lake Ann and crosses a saddle to a full frontal view of some of Mount Shuksan's glaciers.

Hikers often munch their lunch and gaze at the mountain, watching torrents of water gush off the ice.

Maps: Green Trails No. 14 Mount Shuksan, Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park complex, TOPO! North Cascades, Mt. Baker and Surrounding Wilderness Areas.

Getting there: Head east on the Mount Baker Highway to the Mount Baker Ski Area. Continue on paved road about 1.5 miles upward to the parking lot at Austin Pass, elevation 4,700 feet.

The hike to Lake Ann begins with the downhill first.

The trail begins by dropping 600 feet into a headwater basin of Swift Creek. At 2¼ miles, after a loss of 800 feet, reach the lowest elevation (3,900 feet) of the trip, a camp in meadows by a rushing stream, and a junction with the Swift Creek trail.

Turning left at the junction, hikers take a 900-foot ascent in 1½ miles, first in heather and clumps of fir trees, then over a granite rockslide into forest under a cliff to a little valley. Plod onward and upward to the obvious 4,800-foot saddle and another half-mile to Lake Ann.