Meet at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center
One of the most positive outcomes of the new permit system is visitors no longer have to jockey for parking spots at the space-limited trailhead. Instead guests meet at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center where there is ample parking for everyone or 20 minutes prior to their scheduled time. It’s a good idea to arrive 15 to 20 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure time. Simply check in with Welcome Center staff and make certain you’ve got all the gear you need for a great day on the trail. If you forgot anything, the Welcome Center sells hats, sunscreen, water bottles, snacks and souvenirs. They’ll even rent gear like backpacks and hiking poles. For answers to all your questions, be sure to check out the Hanging Lake FAQ.
Take the Hanging Lake Shuttle
At the appointed time, climb aboard the Hanging Lake shuttle buses which will take you to and from the trailhead throughout the day. Most people can hike to the lake and back in approximately three hours. When you’re done, hop on the bus for a lift back to the Welcome Center.
Permits are required to hike Hanging Lake throughout the year, even if you cycle or walk to the trailhead; however, the Hanging Lake Shuttle Bus and the Welcome Center only operate during peak season from May through October.
Hike to Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake is a stunning hike that begins in Glenwood Canyon. A comfort station with restrooms and water fountains is usually visitors’ first stop. The paved path follows the Colorado River to the trailhead and offers picture-perfect red-rock canyon views. Though the trail is short, just 1.2 miles (1.9 km), it’s steep, so take your time and wear study footwear. Enroute, you’ll follow the dirt trail along the creek, scramble over boulder fields and walk along loamy foot paths. Wooden bridges add charm along the way. The final ascent is steep and many, especially those with young children, are grateful for the handrail. As you round the final bend, you’ll step onto a boardwalk that surrounds and protects the edge of the pristine mountain lake. Remember to practice leave no trace principles. Take plenty of time to enjoy the view of the three cascading waterfalls and lake. For a little more physical effort, follow the signs to Spouting Rock which ranges from a torrent to a trickle depending on water flow. Notice the hanging gardens of ferns and other foliage in the microclimate of the falls.
Now it’s time to soak at Iron Mountain Hot Springs
After hard work comes reward. You made it to Hanging Lake and back again, a steep and rigorous hike well worth all the effort. For your accomplishment, treat yourself to a long, soothing soak in the mineral-rich geothermal waters of Iron Mountain Hot Springs, open daily until 10 p.m. Our 16 soaking pools, freshwater family pool and jetted spa are just the ticket to feeling relaxed, restored and rejuvenated.