This short, steep, scenic trail travels from the bottom of Glenwood Canyon up through Deadhorse Creek Canyon to Hanging Lake. NO DOGS are allowed on Hanging Lake Trail, NO FISHING and NO SWIMMING in Hanging Lake.
The trail begins in oak brush, Piñon pine and juniper, then enters a Douglas fir forest with serviceberry and cottonwoods. The trail is well-maintained with many switchbacks to accommodate the rise in elevation. Cutting the switchbacks promotes severe trail erosion. There are several rest stops along the way. Some parts of the trail are rocky, especially in the beginning and at the end where the trail has steep stairs carved into the canyon cliff rock. The trail ends on a boardwalk around the lake. It is important not to walk off this boardwalk, because the fragile shoreline breaks easily; allowing more of the lake's water to flow away. There is a short offshoot from the trail, just before the boardwalk, which leads to Spouting Rock.
GEOLOGY - The hike up through Deadhorse Creek Canyon is a passage through millions of years of geologic history. At the bottom there is Precambrian metamorphic greenstone, schist and feldspar. Then there are layers of sedimentary sandstones deposited during a period of ancient seas. The upper portion of the trail is dominated by gray and white limestones also laid down by early seas.
HANGING LAKE - This 1.5 acre lake was formed by a geologic fault which caused the lake bed to drop away from the valley floor above. Water flows into the lake over Bridal Veil Falls. The lake edge has built up from dissolved carbonates which are deposited on the shore as the water flows over. SWIMMING is PROHIBITED because body oils in the water stop this deposition. Trout are visible in the lake, but FISHING IS NOT PERMITTED.
SPOUTING ROCK - For centuries, water has dissolved a passage through the limestone to exit out of a sheer cliff wall as a spectacular waterfall.
Directions: From Vail, Travel 52 miles west on I-70 to the Grizzly exit in Glenwood Canyon. Turn around, get back on the eastbound lane of I-70 and head back to the Hanging Lake exit (there is no westbound exit). There is a new large developed rest area with toilets, drinking water, information and parking. The trail itself begins 1/4 mile east of the rest area on the left just before a bridge. There are picnic tables at the rest area and at the trailhead. It is important to note that dogs are not allowed on this trail because of its high use. There are no facilities at the top of the trail and because of the strenuous nature of the trail, make sure you bring drinking water.
Elevation: 6,100 feet
Ending Elevation: 7,100 feet
Usage: Very Heavy
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White River National Forest, Colorado
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