” Keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile. And climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
I’ll never forget the first time I saw pictures of Hanging Lake. I had just moved to Colorado and was googling different hikes for the weekend. I came across this photograph of a bright turquoise lake, with skinny waterfalls flowing down from a lush green and orange cliff hanging. I had never seen anything like it! As I read further I had discovered that this hidden treasure was a Natural National Landmark made up of travertine, also know as limestone deposits from mineral springs. This is what gives the lake its bright, vibrant colors and what makes this awe-inspiring beauty so unique. The trail is only 1.2 miles, but is incredibly steep as you gain 1,000 ft in elevation. Its a definite butt kicker but extremely rewarding at the top. There are handrails throughout the hike to help guide the way and also to help those who are struggling with those steep grades. The trail opens up to panoramic views of the canyon, a good stopping point to rest before you make your final decent. For an added bonus to your day, take the short trail before the boardwalk….. this goes to Spouting Rock. Here you will find a beautiful waterfall, spewing out of the limestone. The waterfall is so close to the trail that you can actually walk underneath it. Its a must see and only minutes from the original trail!
In the past 6 years, I attempted this hike on 4 different occasions. Each time the parking lot was full. Frustrated, but not defeated…I decided I might have better luck in the winter. SWEET VICTORY! I finally made it! The frozen cascades, red walls, and lush mossy hills were just as beautiful as the pictures. It was well worth the wait after all these years and awesome to see in a different season.
Hanging Lake is located off of I-70, just 10 miles from Glenwood Springs. The drive alone through Glenwood Canyon is enough to get your mountain fix for the day. The rocky walls are bursting with color and engulf your car as you travel up the canyon. Unfortunately due to this trail’s popularity and fragile ecosystem, a reservation and permit is now needed to hike Hanging Lake. During peak season you will no longer be able to park at the trailhead and will have to shuttle from the welcome center in Glenwood Springs. Its sad to see a good thing end, but if it preserves the trail…more power to it! Don’t forget to obey the signs, respect this landmark, and leave no trace. Happy hiking!
What to bring:
Summer months: sturdy hiking boots, water, sunscreen, and your camera!
Winter months: crampons (spikes), hiking poles, water, and your camera!