Hiking in Glenwood Springs
Hitting the local trails is a great way to explore the area. Like a premium bag of trail mix, Glenwood’s hiking routes offer plenty of variety with quite a few unexpected, yet satisfying surprises thrown in. Take some time on your Glenwood Springs vacation to see the sights on foot!
Before You Go, Be Prepared!
For the best possible hiking experience, equip yourself with the essentials:
- Comfortable, sturdy footwear. Depending on where you go, you might be strolling on concrete or path or climbing a rock-strewn path. Wear supportive, protective shoes to prevent pain and blisters.
- Ample hydration. Always bring along a water bottle or an energy drink to quench your thirst. Dehydration can cause serious health complications.
- Sunscreen & protective clothing. The sun is intense, especially at elevation. Slather on the sunscreen, the higher the SPF the better and reapply often! Hats and sun-filtering clothing are a good idea as well. Though Colorado boasts more days of sunshine than any other state, the weather in the mountains is unpredictable and can change quickly; be prepared for a drop in temperature, wind and occasional rain.
- Snacks. Good choices for a quick mid-hike pick-me-up include energy bars, nuts and granola.
- A camera. Photo ops abound on every one of these hikes!
Hanging Lake Trail
The most famous of Glenwood’s trails, Hanging Lake Trail is a steep hike that leads to an exquisite lake on a cliff high above Glenwood Canyon. The crystal-clear lake is fed by waterfalls and surrounded by a boardwalk where visitors can marvel at the view. The popular hike was a casualty of over-tourism; at its peak, it hosted several hundred visitors per day! Most recently, the fragile lake ecosystem was threatened by the Grizzly Creek Fire in 2020, but thanks to the valiant efforts of firefighters, the lake and immediate surroundings did not burn. To hike Hanging Lake, make reservations and purchase a hiking permit for $12. Permits are required whether you park, bike or walk to the trailhead.
- Bonus Highlight: Follow the signs to Spouting Rock to see another waterfall located a short distance from Hanging Lake.
Doc Holliday Trail
Another famous trail is to the memorial marker of John “Doc” Holliday who was renowned for his part in the famous shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Doc came to Glenwood Springs seeking relief from his terminal tuberculosis but died less than two months after arriving at the age of 36. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery, where many of the town’s original inhabitants were laid to rest.
- Bonus Highlight: Infamous bandit Kid Curry is also buried in Linwood Cemetery. Curry ran with the Wild Bunch gang and was killed near New Castle after attempting a train robbery.
A steep, invigorating hike, the Cross Trail is a singletrack trail that wends its way up Red Mountain. It is used mostly by hikers but intersects at points with the Grandstaff Trail, a popular mountain biking route. The Cross Trail offers multiple overlooks for a bird’s eye view of the Roaring Fork River, Glenwood Springs and Mt. Sopris to the south. At the peak is a large metal cross, for which the trail is named. It is illuminated during the Christmas and Easter seasons. For a more gentle descent, follow the road, also known as the Jeanne Golay Trail, back to the trailhead.
- Bonus Highlight: Instead of heading straight back, follow the road a little further south where to a grassy open area with a windsock. This spot has gorgeous views and is also the launch point for paragliders!
Rio Grande Trail
This paved trail is 42 miles long and follows the Roaring Fork River from Glenwood Springs to Aspen! A rails-to-trails project, it was once the route of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. Now it offers a gentle grade for walkers to enjoy the riverside scenery. River access, picnic tables, and benches for resting are strewn all along the way. The Rio Grande Trail is ideal for everyone whether they’re looking for a cardio-pumping run or a leisurely afternoon stroll.
- Bonus Highlight: Dip your feet into the cold, snow-fed Roaring Fork River to cool off on a hot summer day or tote along a rod and go fly-fishing.
Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail
This paved trail begins at one end in Glenwood Springs and meanders along the Colorado River for 14 miles. Hop on the multi-use path at rest areas including No Name, Grizzly and Bair Ranch. Note: Some rest areas and portions of the trail remain closed due to the Grizzly Creek Fire. Trail updates can be found at CDOT.
- Bonus Highlight: Horseshoe Bend is a Glenwood Springs city park that is only accessible via the Recreation Path. With a picnic shelter and views of the canyon walls and river, it is a lovely spot to eat a packed lunch.
Storm King Memorial Trail
This hiking trail is a tribute to the 14 firefighters who lost their lives in 1994 in the South Canyon Fire (also called the Storm King Fire). They were trapped on the hillside when winds shifted suddenly. Interpretive signs along the way describe the events of that tragic day.
- Bonus Highlight: Visit the Storm King 14 Monument in Two Rivers Park with a centerpiece sculpture of a smokejumper, a female hotshot and helitack crew member. There are also plaques dedicated to each of the fallen heroes.
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