It’s summer here in the Rockies! The lush green signs of new life are sprouting everywhere, and the snow is melting away from most of the trails around Avon and more west towards Glenwood Springs. Hiking season is upon us! May and June are fantastic months for hiking as there is a cool breeze, with a warm burning sun- this combo definitely makes for incredible conditions- especially when you’re conquering steep up-hill trails like one of my new-found favorites: Hanging Lake.
The journey to Hanging Lake begins even before you get to the trail head. Heading west on I-70 from Avon, it’s about a 40min drive which winds through the canyons of White River National Forest, following along the stunning Colorado River. The beginning of the hike to Hanging Lake is situated off it’s very own exit, so you can’t miss it!
The hike to Hanging Lake is pretty mild in terms of distance (it’s only 1.2 miles each way!) but be prepared for the entire trek to be up-hill- you’re going to have to work for those views! To put Hanging Lake’s location into perspective, the trail takes you along Dead Horse Creek and through the rocky Glenwood Canyon, so the hike will follow a series of continuous switchbacks which make the uphill grade a lot more manageable to conquer. The trail is very well marked and follows a stream all the way up to the lake, which gets wider and wider the closer you get to the top. Once you start seeing heavy moss covering rocks and trees, you know you’re close to the lake.
My theory of why it’s called ‘Hanging Lake’ is simply because it’s not quite a waterfall- there is foliage and moss and grass growing everywhere at the top of the so called “waterfalls” so it essentially just hangs off the moss. There are two viewpoints- don’t miss the top view point called Spouting Rock where snow-melt water from the Flat Tops pours out a hole in the limestone cliff.
It’s also super tempting to take a dip in Hanging Lake because the water is an aquamarine blue – but it is extremely bad for the fragile ecosystem, so if you go, keep in mind there are thousands of other beautiful souls that want to experience what you will going to Hanging Lake, keep it nice for fellow hikers! We need to preserve our home, the wildlife it inhabits, and the ecosystems in place- practicing Leave No Trace is extremely important especially here at Hanging Lake. Be mindful of people (and animals!) around you and enjoy Hanging Lakes beauty with only your eyes.
Written by Chelsea Martin (@chels_elizabeth__)