For More Adventure Plan a Hike to Hanging Lake

There are so many ways to play in Glenwood Springs with Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park a top-ranking choice. Another attraction that gets top billing is Hanging Lake. Located in Glenwood Canyon, the trail is a favorite Colorado visitor destination. Unlike other trails in the area, due to its popularity hiking this beauty takes some planning.

Purchase a Permit to Hike Hanging Lake

In order to preserve the pristine natural environment, create a pleasant hiking experience for all and prevent overuse, permits are required to hike to Hanging Lake. A straightforward online reservation system allows you to choose the date and time of your hike. A portion of the $12 per person fee goes to trail maintenance and education.

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Meet at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center

One of the most positive outcomes of the new permit system is visitors no longer have to jockey for parking spots at the space-limited trailhead. Instead guests meet at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center where there is ample parking for everyone. It’s a good idea to arrive 45 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure time. Simply check in with Welcome Center staff and make certain you’ve got all the gear you need for a great day on the trail. If you forgot anything, the Welcome Center sells hats, sunscreen, water bottles, snacks and souvenirs. They’ll even rent gear like backpacks and hiking poles. For answers to all your questions, be sure to check out the Hanging Lake FAQ.

Take the Hanging Lake Shuttle

At the appointed time, climb aboard the Hanging Lake shuttle buses which will take you to and from the trailhead throughout the day. Most people can hike to the lake and back in approximately three hours. When you’re done, hop on the bus for a lift back to the Welcome Center.

Permits are required to hike Hanging Lake throughout the year, even if you cycle or walk to the trailhead; however, the Hanging Lake Shuttle Bus and the Welcome Center only operate during peak season from May through October.

Hike to Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake is a stunning hike that begins in Glenwood Canyon. A comfort station with restrooms and water fountains is usually visitors’ first stop. The paved path follows the Colorado River to the trailhead and offers picture-perfect red-rock canyon views. Though the trail is short, just 1.2 miles (1.9 km), it’s steep, so take your time and wear study footwear. Enroute, you’ll follow the dirt trail along the creek, scramble over boulder fields and walk along loamy foot paths. Wooden bridges add charm along the way. The final ascent is steep and many, especially those with young children, are grateful for the handrail. As you round the final bend, you’ll step onto a boardwalk that surrounds and protects the edge of the pristine mountain lake. Remember to practice leave no trace principles. Take plenty of time to enjoy the view of the three cascading waterfalls and lake. For a little more physical effort, follow the signs to Spouting Rock which ranges from a torrent to a trickle depending on water flow. Notice the hanging gardens of ferns and other foliage in the micro-climate of the falls.

Beyond Our Mountain-Top Theme Park

Because Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park believes the adventure should continue beyond your visit to America’s only mountaintop theme park, we encourage visitors to hike to Hanging Lake and explore the many other things-to-do in Glenwood Springs.