Just like the Great Sand Dunes, Hanging Lake is another one of Colorado’s sights that has me asking myself, “Why have I not been here yet?”.
The Hanging Lake trail head is about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs and a great hike to go on. The hike is just over a mile long, but that distance is mostly straight upward. Ascending over 1,000 ft the trail consists of stones creating a stairway all the way up to the lake.
The last portion just before the lake has a supportive hand rail to assist hikers in not falling over the side of the cliff.
Just after this, you reach the point where you can head straight to the lake or left and up to check out Spouting Rock. Melt waters from the Flat Tops flow through the rock and burst out of Spouting rock to keep the lake and creek well fed with fresh water. Visitors can walk behind and around spouting rock for a different perspective.
Hanging lake itself is a unique geological ecosystem and is now recognized as a National Natural Landmark.
Travertine, a form of dissolved limestone, lines the lake giving the lake its stunning color. The hanging mosses provide a specific environment for unique wildlife. I didn’t get the chance, but black swifts can be seen in the evening flying overhead then heading down to the mosses to feed their young. Black swifts can only build nests in cool areas beside or behind waterfalls.
Hanging Lake is known for its pristine turquoise waters. Complete water clarity allows visitors to see all of the native trout freely swimming to and fro.
The way up is a pretty strenuous hike. I saw a lot of people taking breaks and using hiking poles for support. If you decide to go on the hike make sure to take plenty of water and comfortable shoes. As you’re going up, just keep in mind that the view is more than worth it!
I hurried on the way up to catch the sunrise and on the way back I spent some more time really taking in the surroundings and getting some pictures.
If you find yourself in Colorado, more specifically this area, it’s definitely worth a stop to enjoy the hike and the lake at the top!