One mile up within the rugged terrain of Glenwood Canyon lies the Hanging Lake. This National Natural Landmark is a geologic wonder: waterfalls that spill into a crystal turquoise lake suspended on the edge of a cliff. You won’t find another hiking trail like this in Colorado—or anywhere else in the world.
Visitors breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sight of beautiful mountains at the trailhead, just 10 miles out of Glenwood Springs. The Hanging Lake Trail is marked ‘difficult’ and with good reason.
Although it’s only a little over a mile long, that mile traverses 1,000 feet up the canyon and it is a challenging trek. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack more water than you think you need if you plan to tackle the trail.
The first tenth of a mile is covered with boulders that hikers must weave through or climb over. Before long the first footbridge appears, allowing visitors to safely cross Dead Horse Creek. There will be several more bridges along the hike in addition to sturdy log benches to sit on and take a rest.
Sounds of rushing water fill the ears of every explorer before they even make it to the top of the trail. The steep, rocky path eventually turns into stairs, and many hikers stop here to marvel at the stunning views of the canyon below. The Hanging Lake is only a few minutes away.
A boardwalk allows hikers to meander around the lake and safely view all of the natural beauty that lies beyond the cliff. Walking all the way around the boardwalk and past some rather large boulders brings visitors to the waterfalls themselves.
Here icy water from the snow melt plummets into the lake. Watch the rainbows dance around where the sun and spray meet.
Hikers who continue about five minutes up past the Hanging Lake will find the Spouting Rock—a lovely spot with plenty of places to sit and relax and watch the water fall down from a narrow hole in the limestone rock above.
The biggest challenge visitors face when taking on Hanging Lake Trail is finding a place to park! This natural wonder attracts hordes of tourists on weekends in the summer time, so plan accordingly.
There’s no reason to limit your trip just to the summer, however, as Glenwood Canyon comes alive as the seasons change: bright, lush trees in the spring; colorful, vibrant displays in the fall; quiet, snow-covered trails in the winter.
Snowshoers delight in the exercise and beauty Hanging Lake Trail provides when it is covered in a fresh blanket of snow. The powder adds a new level of difficulty to an already tiring trail, so be ready to have your strength and endurance tested. The winter wonderland at the top is a well-deserved reward for your efforts.
When visitors are finished hiking at Hanging Lake—regardless of the season—Glenwood Springs Hot Springs provides the perfect respite for weary muscles. Stay at the lodge and get complimentary access to the pools or pay for a single day soaking up the hot, mineral-rich water and recovering from your hike in style.