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Colorado's famed Hanging Lake closed indefinitely

Hanging Lake in Colorado
Hanging Lake in Colorado (Image credit: boydhendrikse)

 

One of Colorado’s most popular hiking spots has been closed again, this time by recent mudslides in the area. The Forest Service has announced that the Hanging Lake trail, popular with hikers and Instagrammers for its outstanding beauty, suffered significant damage resulting from debris flows during the intense rainstorms that took place in late July over the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

“Unfortunately, when our crews surveyed the trail, we found significant damage. Bridges have been completely destroyed or severely damaged and there are mudslides blocking large sections of the trail. The Hanging Lake Trail is unsafe and impassable in some areas and will remain closed for the foreseeable future,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.

Hanging Lake is located near Glenwood Springs and is a rare example of a travertine geological formation – white or light-coloured calcareous rock deposited from mineral springs. Typically, this National Natural Landmark receives over 100,000 visitors each year from around the world eager to get their hiking boots on and undertake the short but rigorous ascent to the exquisite waterfall-fed turquoise lake.

The waterfalls at Hanging Lake in Colorado

The waterfalls at Hanging Lake in Colorado (Image credit: truelight)

The Hanging Lake Trail had only recently reopened after it was damaged in 2020 by the devastating Grizzly Creek Fire which scorched 32,000 acres of the surrounding wilderness. The lake itself was spared and in May 2021, the trail reopened to visitors on a permit-only basis to reduce foot traffic. Unfortunately, the fire has left the surrounding landscape unstable and recent torrential rain caused mudslides that buried I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. Aerial photos in local news sources revealed the lake’s usually pristine waters were a chocolatey brown.

Hanging Lake was previously the center of a controversy when Brazil-based activewear company Liquido posted photographs of their models swimming in the lake, which is prohibited for ecological reasons.

For now, Colorado’s locals and guests will have to find a different trail to enjoy as the work needing undertaken is likely to be extensive and expensive. According to the town of Glenwood Springs website, existing reservation holders are encouraged to donate their reservation fee to a restoration fund for Hanging Lake, the trail, and welcome area.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.