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Hanging Lake, CO

Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.3 of 5 
no permit
283 10 0
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,118 feet
Elevation Gain 750 feet
Accumulated Gain 800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.6
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
19  2018-06-25 Pivo
11  2017-11-21 sneakySASQUATCH
150  2015-09-20
Colorado Fall Colours - Sep2015
23  2014-06-06 Stoic
10  2011-07-19 juliachaos
19  2011-07-19 Hikergirl81
41  2011-07-16 tandmhaines
10  2009-06-04 nonot
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 2,001
Trips 479 map ( 4,543 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  4:41am - 7:39pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Hanging on the edge of a dream
by nonot

This is a creekside hike up to a lake with several waterfalls. It is right in the heart of the Glenwood Canyon area along I70.

The trail is steep and could possibly get slippery when wet or in snow. During winter I imagine it would be quite icy. Bring more than a 16oz bottle of water as you'll want to take a few hours to enjoy your hike.

Glenwood Canyon is a scenic area where the Colorado River cut its way deep through the Colorado bedrock. The canyon is several hundred feet high and stunningly beautiful. The Interstate system was slated to go right through the canyon, but it took over half a century to plan, design, and build the interstate through this canyon that would co-exist with the riparian area and still provide for recreational activities. There are numerous signs and 4 rest areas in this ~10 mile section of interstate that all have commemorative plaques that detail the history of construction. The area has bike and running trails and appears to be a quite popular destination for runners, bikers, and tourists.

From the Hanging Lake Rest Area, begin hiking east on the paved trail about 0.5 miles until you get to the signed turnoff for Hanging Lake Trail to your northwest. Begin climbing up the rocks (this is basically the trail all the way to the top.) The trail is steep, rocky, and runs next to a gorgeous creek that cascades down from above. The snow-melt and springs that feed this creek keep the air temperature 20 degrees lower when you are within 30 feet of the water under the trees. The trail is rarely more than about 10 feet from the creek. It's magnificent!

Continue jumping and high stepping your way up the boulders. There are signs every 0.25 miles to show you your progress. As you contour beneath the trees you will cross over several well constructed wood bridges and alternate on sides of the creek.

Along the way you will pass a signed turn off for dead horse point. I know nothing of this trail but I was told it is longer and steep.

Staying on the hanging lake trail, soon you will reach an area where the creek cascades down a mossy wall from a hundred feet above. The trail makes a U-turn and begins climbing stairs with a railing installed. The railing has taken some abuse over the years so don't trust your life to it!

After a turn and a few more stairs you will emerge onto a boardwalk area and look upon Hanging Lake. There are a few benches built into the boardwalk if you want to rest. Walk around and admire the waterfalls that cascade down into the crystal clear lake. You can observe trout 30 feet away 10 feet down as if they are floating in air. The water is simply that clear! Travertine coated cliffs sparkle with the water and from above you can glimpse through the trees an enormous waterfall two hundred feet above you.

Walk back to where the boardwalk began. Look away from the boardwalk up the hill and notice there is a sign for "Spouting Rock". Walk up the steep, wet, and slippery trail a few hundred feet until you are at the base of a gigantic, powerful waterfall flowing over the cliff above. From the side you can see that there is not only water pouring from the top, but spouting out of holes in the cliffside, forming gigantic rooster tails of fresh, pure, clear snow-melt.

Continue around and you can walk under and behind the falls. The grotto drips with water and is mossy and covered in travertine deposits.

Once you have soaked it all in, pick up your jaw off the ground and make you way back the way you came, knowing that you may never encounter such a beautiful place again in a long time.

In winter, hiking this trail may net you amazing displays of icicles and icefalls. I've heard it's just as gorgeous when frozen. I've also heard that it is unparalleled in the fall when the trees are full of fall color.

Water Sources
I'd recommend you bring a liter of water. Although the entire hike is feet from a creek and lake, it isn't wise to drink it straight without filtering.

None in the area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-06-12 nonot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    It can be a bit tricky to get to the trailhead. You can only get to the trailhead going east on I70. Leaving the trailhead you can only merge onto I70 going west. Therefore, about 7 miles east of the town of Glenwood springs, going east on I70, take the "Hanging Lake" exit just before the tunnel. Park anywhere in the rest area and begin hiking. When you're ready to leave, follow the road to the on-ramp and merge onto I70.

    If you are coming from east of Hanging Lake or after your hike you want to be going east, you have to make use of the rest area about 4 miles to the west to make a U-turn and merge back onto I70.

    July 2017 : During our time in Glenwood Springs we were told by numerous people that, due to very limited parking, you need to be at the trailhead by 6:30 am. It was suggested to us by a forest ranger that we get off of I-70 at exit 119 (No Name exit - yes, that's the name) and park on the southeast-western parking area. Then bike to the Hanging Lake trailhead on a paved path. There is a bike rack at the trailhead to lock up your bike.
    page created by nonot on Jun 12 2009 6:23 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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