We have been in Colorado since 2010 and we had never hiked Hanging Lake until just recently. We decided that we should probably hike the iconic and quintessential trail sooner rather than later because recent reports of vandalism to the trail had sparked conversations about possibly closing the trail. (FYI, today is June 21, 2017 and I have read and heard the trail will probably implement a permit system instead of closing down).
Currently, there is no fee to hike the trail. The exit to the rest area which will lead you to the trail head is well marked off of I-70. Keep in mind that this is a VERY popular trail, especially in the summertime and the parking lot gets full very quickly. Keep this in mind while planning your trip. Please keep in mind that the park staff works very hard to make sure that the flow of traffic and the parking spots are monitored. Please don’t get angry with park staff because of parking or traffic, plan wisely to avoid frustration. Another tip, hike on a weekday if you can and arrive early or later in the afternoon when the crowds have cleared.
This hike is absolutely beautiful. The lake is stunning and majestic. When you make it to the top and round the bend and your eyes first catch a glimpse of the infamous lake, you immediately forget the strenuous hike and realize the best views do require some hard work. “Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community.” – See more at: http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake#sthash.CX2kv7QD.dpuf
After hiking the trail twice, reading the multitude of signs posted around the rest area and trail, talking with visitors, and observation I decided to compile a list of helpful tips.
- Unfortunately, you can’t drive to the lake. You have to park and hike up to it.
- Proper footwear is a must for this hike. This hike is steep and rocky, and the rocks can be very slick. I do not recommend this hike in flip flops, dressy sandals, etc…
- In my opinion, this hike is a steep climb. Be aware of this before you embark on the hike, if you are with someone with health issues, this may not be the hike for them. I personally would rate the hike as strenuous.
- Hydrate. Bring H2O. Don’t let the small mileage fool you, especially in the summer and especially if you aren’t used to the elevation.
- Take your time going up. In my mind, hiking is similar to yoga, everyone goes at a pace that is personally comfortable. The hike is beautiful all the way to the top. Stop, catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery. (There are places to sit along the hike).
- Parking is very limited at the trail head/rest area. Expect crowds, especially during the summer. Plan ahead, start early or go a little later in the afternoon.
- If you show up at the trail head at 7:45 pm in the summer, keep in mind that the chances of coming back down the trail in the dark is highly likely. Plan accordingly.
- Leave no trace. Pack out what you brought in. There are no trash cans along the trail or at the top by the lake.
- Please respect all of the signs and barriers. There are signs everywhere letting visitors know what to expect and the rules of the trail.
- This is not a dog friendly hike. Pups will have to stay at home for this hike.
Enjoy your hike and visit to the Glenwood Springs area. If you hike or have hiked to Hanging Lake, please share your comments, I would love to hear about your adventure.
For more information on Hanging Lake and visiting Glenwood Springs, please visit http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake