What to Do While Hanging Lake is Closed for Trail Maintenance

Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Springs

What to Do While Hanging Lake is Closed for Trail Maintenance

Hanging Lake is getting a major makeover which will limit visitor access to the fabled hiking trail in Glenwood Canyon. Here’s what to do in Glenwood Springs in the meantime.

Hiking to the iconic Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Canyon will be restricted this summer. Find out what’s happening, why, and what you can do instead on your next visit to Glenwood Springs.

Three Alternate Activities to Hiking Hanging Lake Trail

Hanging Lake is known as a great local hike that features spectacular scenery and the beauty of water in the form of a lake and falls. While access to the Hanging Lake Trail will be limited until fall, visitors can enjoy these alternative activities that make the most of the area’s natural geothermal waters, its rivers, and places with jaw-dropping vistas.   

Soaking at Iron Mountain Hot SpringsIron Mountain Hot Springs & WorldSprings. Spend a relaxing three hours, about the same time it takes to hike up to Hanging Lake and back, soaking in the legacy pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs or the inspired mineral water of WorldSprings. The pools at both overlook the Roaring Fork River creating the same calming mood as gazing on the triple falls of Hanging Lake.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Like Hanging Lake, Glenwood Caverns is a Natural National Landmark (along with Iron Mountain Hot Springs). Take a tour of the caves, home to spectacular natural underground “rooms” adorned with pristine cave formations. Like standing in the spray of Spouting Rock, a cave tour at the Adventure Park is the perfect way to cool off on a hot day.

Whitewater Rafting in Glenwood Canyon. Though Hanging Lake access is limited, you can still enjoy the geological wonders of Glenwood Canyon. Ancient waters trickling through the porous rock set up the perfect conditions for creating Hanging Lake, while the Colorado River slicing through the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon generated the perfect conditions for whitewater rafting expeditions.  

Hanging Lake Trail is Getting a Makeover

Hanging Lake Trail is undergoing a much-needed refurbishment. In May, crews began renovating the popular trail damaged by the Grizzly Creek fire in 2020 and subsequent mudslides the following spring.

Spouting Rock Work on the 1.2-mile trail will be comprehensive, encompassing the route from the riverside trailhead to famous falls. The work will include a plaza with ample seating at the base and installing seven new bridges spanning Dead Horse Creek. The damaged shelter constructed by the Civilian Conservation Chor in the 1930s will be stabilized and preserved. A favorite spot for resting, seating, and new stonework will complement the historic structure. At Spouting Rock, a waterfall feature located above Hanging Lake, a boardwalk will help corral visitors and protect the fragile ecosystem. The multi-million-dollar restoration will also include planting of native vegetation to help moderate erosion.

Construction is underway and the work is expected to be completed by Fall of 2024. During the renovation, Hanging Lake Trail will be closed on weekdays and occasionally on weekends when the trail’s bridges are to be set in place.

While there will be fewer permits issued this summer, Hanging Lake reservations are still required for summer hiking and can be purchased online.  Available dates and times are released every Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m.

The Grizzly Creek Fire

The Grizzly Creek Fire ignited on August 10, 2020, near the Grizzly Creek Rest Area in Glenwood Canyon. Authorities determined the fire was human-caused, either by a chain dragging along the highway or a discarded cigarette butt. Fanned by arid winds, the fire rapidly spread, jumping both the interstate and the Colorado River, resulting in the closure of traffic along Interstate 70 for two weeks. Recognized for its significant impact on east-west transportation, the Grizzly Creek Fire was classified as one of the nation’s foremost firefighting priorities, prompting the allocation of 873 firefighters to combat the blaze.

The conflagration produced towering columns of smoke visible for weeks in Glenwood Springs, prompting precautionary evacuations of several nearby communities and neighborhoods. Despite consuming over 32,000 acres of land, Hanging Lake, a National Natural Landmark and beloved hiking destination located mere miles from the fire’s origin, remained unscathed. The Grizzly Creek Fire was fully contained by December 18, 2020, owing to the heroic efforts of wildland firefighters. Miraculously, no lives or residences were lost.

But a year later, intense rainstorms washed mud down burn scar areas, across Interstate 70 and surrounding areas, again making travel through the canyon impassible. The heavy debris flow contained rocks, trees, brush, and mud that caused major damage to the Hanging Lake trail. Eventually, the trail reopened for visitors, but it has remained in need of repairs which are being addressed this season.

Learn more about Iron Mountain Hot Springs and World Springs. Make your plans to visit today!

The following two tabs change content below.

Karin Gamba

Karin Gamba has been writing professionally for the travel and tourism markets for nearly two decades. She has promoted a wide array of travel products that include destination towns, vacation resorts, golf courses, ski areas, spas, hotels, restaurants and countless visitor attractions. Karin especially loves writing about her hometown of Glenwood Springs.