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Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake can be found out towards Glenwood Springs just off of I-70 - roughly 170 miles from Denver, Colorado.

Hanging Lake has a reputation for being one of the most scenic areas of Colorado, I had heard of it some time ago but never saw it until July 3rd, 2002. In spite of the extremely dry conditions, it was still a stunning sight. If you come to Colorado, I cannot recommend this enough - no touristy type stuff, just hiking and natures beauty.

There are lots of bike trails in the area so if you're an avid road/mountain biker I would recommend bringing it. The Hanging Lake trail itself is not bikable though, the people who run the park were thoughtful enough to leave bike racks at the trail head so you can park and walk to the top.

Friendly Chipmunk
Friendly Chipmunk
(click to enlarge)
The stretch of I-70 that goes through Glenwood Canyon itself is one of the most expensive highways in US history. The old Glenwood Canyon road got to the point where it was unable to handle the volume of traffic passing through it. Back in the 1970's the Colorado Department Of Transportation (CDOT) decided to widen the highway to accommodate more volume. Unfortunately when a highway department decides to do that, they make a mess of the surrounding landscape.

Local environmental activists including John Denver, got involved and made sure that the beauty of Glenwood Canyon was not spoiled by the highway. CDOT and the environmentalists agreed on a plan, a price per tree, rock, bush, etc. was established for each item - if that item was destroyed, CDOT paid that price.

The end result is remarkable the highway is elevated a good portion of the way. The beauty of the canyon has not been spoiled by the highway - in fact rest areas and bike trails were built so that the canyon can be appreciated by all year round.


A Small Falls on The Way
A Small Falls on The Way
(click to enlarge)
The other half is this, a very rugged trail. It is a good 1.5 mile hike that rises a total of 1020 feet to the end. Signs recommend you bring water, sturdy hiking shoes, and other provisions for the hike. I brought my water pack (camelback) on the trip and had it most of the way drained by the time I got back to the bottom.

Most of the trail is shaded but some stretches are not. In a normal year, water is running down the trail side keeping things a bit cooler and less dusty than I experienced. Pictured here is one of the tamer sections, some steps go as high as 1.5 feet.


Spouting Rock
Spouting Rock
(click to enlarge)
Before you reach the Hanging Lake site itself you will see a trail sign pointing towards Spouting Rock. This is a natural spring jetting out of the rock face onto the rocks below.

It is possible to walk around, behind and even under this falls since it is not high volume. Getting under the falls would be a bit shocking since the water is only 40 degrees, if you're hot this will cure that quickly.

While up here, it is worth the time to make the trek, a side benefit is it sets you in the right spot to see the next shot below.


Scenic Overlook of Hanging Lake
Scenic Overlook of Hanging Lake
(click to enlarge)
Spouting Rock falls winds its way down a short ways and spills over into Hanging Lake. If you follow the water along you come this stunning view of Hanging Lake and the surrounding areas.

The thing that really caught me is how clear the water is, you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake with no effort at all. You can look over the edges and see the falls spilling over into the lake below. You will want to watch your step out here, the water is probably deep enough to dive but I wouldn't want to find that out for sure.


Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake
(click to enlarge)
This was taken down at the same level as Hanging Lake. Here you can see the water from Spouting Rock spilling over the edge into Hanging Lake. I have several shots of this and it was hard to pick just one.

Spouting Rock falls winds its way down a short ways and spills over into Hanging Lake. If you follow the water along you come this stunning view of Hanging Lake and the surrounding areas.

The thing that really caught me is how clear the water is, you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake with no effort at all. You can look over the edges and see the falls spilling over into the lake below. You will want to watch your step out here, the water is probably deep enough to dive but I wouldn't want to find that out for sure.


Hanging Lake Falls
Oil Shale Columbine
(click to enlarge)
If you head up during certain times of the year and the weather has been right - you might see some Oil Shale Columbine. Not sure how common this wildflower is but I do know it differs from regular columbine since it's yellow in color.


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