This blog was previously called ‘Colorado’s Hidden Gem’ but then I realized that nobody really Googles for that. So I updated this post, renamed it to Hiking to Hanging Lake in Colorado and added some pictures. The story remains the same however.
Hiking to Hanging Lake, Colorado’s Hidden Gem
Oh my god… I just did it! I broke a promise to myself by using the phrase “hidden gem” as a title for a blog. In my opinion, the word ‘hidden gem’ is used way too often, same as the word “parel” (pearl) in Dutch. Many writers use this to name a special place and it gives me the creeps hearing it too often. However today I’ll join the ‘Hidden Gem club’ and will tell you about a one we found when visiting Colorado. The hidden gem we’re talking about is called ‘Hanging Lake’. Even though it attracts a lot of visitors, it’s still quite far away from the roads in Glenwood Canyon and you actually have to do a fair bit of walking to get there. If you don’t know about it, you will never find it.
“Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydro-logic processes continue to operate as they have done throughout the history of the lake.”
(Confession: I took this off the internet, I could never have written this myself with my tourist-English…).
Lonely Planet describes hiking to Hanging Lake as strenuous and steep so we knew were up for something. At least, that’s what we figured. After finding a parking spot with out large SUV (which can be a real challenge during the weekends) we put on our hiking boots and up we went. Through a lush forest, along a crystal clear stream and across huge boulders. Up, up and more up, it was just about always up. It was a great walk, not too hard (definitely not strenuous) and we were up quick enough, in less than an hour, but we walked in a pretty swift pace. We only had a limited amount of time on this trail as we still needed to drive out to Moab the same day so we brought our hiking poles, drawing lots of attention from our fellow hikers. Apparently, not many people hike with poles, at least not on this trail …
We had seen pictures of the end of the trail before but yet this didn’t prepare us for the magic we were about to see. When we made the last steps on the natural stairs up, this magnificent piece of nature opened up in front of us:
After we took plenty of pictures while trying to avoid the crowds, we just sat down for a while and enjoyed the beauty. Just when we were about to start our descent again, another visitor told us that we should hike up Spouting Rock, a bit further up on the trail. It was a little bit further only but totally gorgeous, too. Here we cooled down underneath another waterfall for a bit and played with some squirrels. In Holland, we don’t get squirrels, so I always get super excited when I see one. And nope, I’ve never fed one, don’t worry about that!
After that, we kind of had to rush down again and make our way over to Moab for the rest of the afternoon. Although it was just a short visit, this trail will be in our memories forever and will always be one of my personal favorites! I just did not expect to see such a masterpiece of beauty up at the trail end. If you are ever in Colorado, make sure to make this hike a total priority, to date hiking to Hanging Lake was definitely one of our favorite outdoor activities on our trip!
Here are our tips and tricks for hiking to Hanging Lake in Colorado:
– The trailhead is located 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, take exit 8 on I-70 to get there.
– Try to avoid the crowds by heading out early or during weekdays. When the parking lot is full there is no overflow parking area.
– The trail is a little about 5 kms (or 3 miles) return, the trip up and down took us about 2 hrs (without stops). The elevation gain is 320 meters or 1.050 feet.
– Definetely make add-on to Spouting Rock, well worth it, even if you are short on time, which will be another 15 minutes one-way.
Want to read more about our Colorado posts? You may also enjoy these:
– The best (short) hikes in Colorado
– Hiking and biking to Maroon Bells, Colorado
– Camping in Mueller State Park: a must-do for outdoor fans
[Please note: this post was originally written late 2013 and updated early 2017.]
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Thanks for sharing!