Colorado is home to a variety of stunning views and scenic hikes. From mountains and lakes to canyons and rivers, it is filled with breathtaking landscapes. One of the state’s beautiful hikes is the Hanging Lake Trail, located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
The town of Glenwood Springs is named after and best known for its hot springs and mineral pools. It is also filled with loads of great hiking and biking trails. Honestly, biking the breathtaking Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path is a must-do item in this area. So is hiking the Hanging Lake hike. The trailhead to Hanging Lake can actually be accessed right off of the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path. It is right by the Colorado River. There is a parking area right by the trailhead, but note, vehicles over 25 feet are not permitted.
It can be a more difficult hike.
The Hanging Lake Hike can be completed in a few hours, which does make it the perfect half-day trip. Due to its location, it can easily be coupled with a bike ride through Glenwood Canyon. This hike is conveniently located on the bike path through Glenwood Canyon. The Hanging Lake Trail, unfortunately, isn’t one that you can spontaneously tackle while biking the trail. Keep in mind that you must drive and park at the trailhead. Bikers will not be allowed to bike in-off the Glenwood Canyon path. They also must leave their bikes in the Hanging Lake parking area or at the trailhead.
This hike takes some planning ahead in order to secure a spot on this coveted trail. It also requires a permit in order to hike. This permit is easy to acquire but quantities are limited. They often go quickly so they must be secured through a reservation made ahead of time. There is a $12 per hiker fee from June 25 though Oct. 31. It move to and a $10 per hiker fee from Nov. 1 through April 30, in order to secure the permit. The permits can be purchased online to secure a time slot. Hiking permits are secured for reservations every hour 6:30 am to 5:30 pm. The money collected through this fee goes toward the long-term sustainability of operations, management, and stewardship of Hanging Lake.
Note, dogs and other pets are not allowed on this trail.
While these parameters may be a deterrent to some, they do help in keeping the number of people on the trail at a given time regulated so it isn’t overcrowded, makes for a more enjoyable experience overall.
The Hanging Lake Trail runs along Dead Horse Creek and takes hikers over seven footbridges, through a steep canyon before finally arriving at Hanging Lake. This trail is an out-and back trail, that is approximately 1.2 miles each way. While it may be short, it is ranked as “more difficult” due to the steepness and rocky areas, especially at the beginning and end of the trail. This backcountry trail gains 1200 feet in elevation on this short but challenging hike.
The scenery of Dead Horse Creek Canyon on this trail makes for a beautiful hike leading up to the main sight of Hanging Lake. The blue-green water of Hanging Lake is unbelievable and the water flowing into the lake is enchanting. The rich color comes from the minerals that can be found in the water. The water in Hanging Lake comes from snow melt and this lake is said to be a sacred place to the Ute tribe that is indigenous to the area as it is a source water area. Swimming and fishing are prohibited at Hanging Lake, leaving it a tranquil spot to enjoy visually. While you can’t go in the lake, there are viewing platforms around the lake allowing you to experience it up close.
This trail is also said to not have cell service, so be sure to take a photo of the map ahead of time.
With the vibrantly colored water, drawing people to come check out this sight, it is a good hike to due in the warmer months. While it is open in the fall and winter, being Colorado, there is a good chance that the trail may be icy and snow covered, making it slippery and a bit more treacherous to tackle the steep parts. If you plan on doing this trail when it could be icy, be sure to wear footwear with good traction.
Hanging Lake is a tranquil and serene spot that you’ll want to spend time sitting at and walking around it to fully take it in. In order to preserve this area, be sure to pack all of your trash and belongings out with you. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy this beautiful lake in Glenwood Springs.