Hanging Lake is situated in Glenwood Canyon east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This hiker destination can be reached following a trail that parallels Dead Horse Creek, an offshoot of the Colorado River. The Hanging Lake Trail starts at the rest stop off of Exit 125 on I-70 Eastbound. This is an eastbound exit only so travelers approaching from the Denver side have to use MP 121 and double back.
The climb to Hanging Lake is a little over one mile and is considered to be a very demanding hike. Parts of the trail are extremely steep and travelers undertaking the trek to the lake must be constantly alert. There aren't many flat sections within the trail system and hikers are required to negotiate some rock-strewn areas. Hikers are strongly advised to bring an adequate water supply, particularly during the warmer summer months. The Lake is located on a steep shelf within Glenwood Canyon. The effort to reach the lake, although a strenuous undertaking will be rewarded by the scenic beauty surrounding the lake area. It can't be emphasized enough, that the short climb will test the energy level of even the more experienced rock climber. Hikers are encouraged to take their time ascending the mountainside and enjoy the breathtaking landscape. Care must be taken at the top due to the steep drop-offs surrounding the lake.
Trail preservation has become increasingly more demanding due to the more than 80,000 climbers each year using the path. Visitors often disregard the rules posted at the trailhead. Pets are not allowed on the trail, but this rule is often ignored. Hikers are asked to leave the trail in the same manner as they find it, but trash is still a significant problem for the volunteers to deal with. Boy Scouts, the local Kiwanis Club and other conservation minded groups help with maintenance, but even with that the upkeep is difficult. The Forest Service holds educational seminars for the young at local schools to help educate the public on the need to observe the trail regulations at Hanging Lake.
A boardwalk on the southern shore of Hanging Lake allows visitors to take in the splendor of the lake setting without disturbing the delicate build up of carbonate deposits. On the opposite shore from the boardwalk is Bridal Veil Falls, a small but stunning waterfall. Schools of wild trout cruise the clear mountain lake water. The trout are protected as both fishing and swimming, including wading, is not allowed due to the delicate environment. To the west of the lake visitors will find Spouting Rock, a cascade of water that has over the years worn its way through the limestone. Although the water is crystal clear it must be purified before it can be consumed.
Tourists are advised to get to the lake fairly early to avoid crowds, especially during the warm weather months. A less busy trek can be enjoyed during the off season. The popularity of Hanging Lake continues to grow as word of its beauty spreads. Bring a camera to share the loveliness of Hanging Lake with family and friends.