Way back in 2012, my dad and I were on one of our father / daughter hiking trips in Utah and we passed through Glenwood Canyon. We stopped to use the restroom and saw a trailhead for Hanging Lake Trail, but we were on a time crunch so we passed it up. Upon Googling it later we realized that we totally missed out! It took me a little over four years to get back here, but this was the first hike on Matt’s birthday trip to Colorado!
The Hanging Lake Trail is 3.2 miles and it’s out and back. This trail is very steep, going pretty much 1.6 miles straight up and back down. It’s well trafficked and aside from the absolutely gorgeous grand finale at the end of this trail there are loads of stunning views and overlooks along the way.
The trail starts up these rocks. They sort-of make steps and make it very easy to work your way up the side of the cliff.
The stream that creates the lake at the top flows down the cliffs into smaller cascades that you follow up the side of the cliff. It’s very peaceful sounding all along the way.
Although the Hanging Lake Trail is very well-trafficked we were on our own the vast majority of the time and found so much peace along the way up. The only crowd that we encountered was near the top at the narrowest part of the trail and, of course, at the lake itself.
Looking down at the switchbacks.
This cozy little shelter is right off the party. It’s a great place to rest if you need it or even to get out of the elements.
Just before reaching the hanging lake, there’s an extremely narrow part of the trail that hugs the edge of the cliff. The have it sort-of fenced off you feel more secure doing the climb up. In addition to all of the excitement, check out this incredible view?!
Just a few yards past the intense part, you turn the corner to see this absolutely stunning view! Multiple streams of water fall over moss-covered cliffs and into the bright turquoise water of Hanging Lake.
Look at that water?! So beautiful!
There are all kinds of little fish in Hanging Lake as well! Not only is the water a bright, beautiful color, but it’s crystal clear!
They’ve built a nice observation deck around the lake – it’s great because it helps to protect the fragile environment up there.
This log stretches across a good section of the lake. Many people post taking photos on this log, but signs ask you not to walk across it.
Be sure not to miss the spouting rock above the lake. I had never heard of this part of this trail, but if you continue straight instead of veering right to go to the lake, you will come to this waterfall gushing out of a cliffside. This water continues down the mountain and feeds into Hanging Lake.
The trip back down was easier on me (having asthma, the trip up is always harder for me), but for Matt (who has a wonky knee) the trip down is harder a lot of times.
A Few Things to Know About This Hike:
» Remember that it’s straight up + straight down. Although this hike is short that doesn’t mean easy.
» Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail. So, if your traveling with your furry friend(s) be sure to make arrangements for them.
» This is a pretty popular trail, so if it’s peak travel season, get there early to snag a parking spot.
» Although it’s tempting, don’t swim or fish in the water. Doing either of these can be destructive to the environment up there.
This is one of the most popular short hikes in Colorado, and it’s understandable why. This trail is beautiful all the way up and the finale at the top is unforgettable. This is in the top three trails that I did in 2016, and I’ve done a lot of them this year. If you’re anywhere near this trail and love phenomenal natural sites, be sure to take the time to do it.
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