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Hiking Review: Hanging Lake, Colorado

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in Colorado’s Vail Valley this summer (lucky me, right?) I’m very fortunate in that my job has allowed me to work remotely for short periods of time from my place in Avon, Colorado (just outside Vail and Beaver Creek Resort). This has allowed me more time to spend with my partner and dogs (who are all summering in Colorado; lucky them, right?) but also more time to spend exploring the mountains in the summer.

Some friends and I went on an amazing hike a couple weeks ago: Hanging Lake. If you are heading to Colorado and are interested in a gorgeous hike, Hanging Lake is a must. The lake is reached via a trailhead located along the Glenwood Canyon Bike and Pedestrian Path that runs along the north side of I-70 in the bottom of the canyon. It can be a little confusing actually accessing the parking lot because you can only get to the trailhead when heading eastbound on I-70.

I have to tell you, this hike is not for beginners! Similar to running the BolderBoulder 10K in May, this was one of the first hikes I did this summer and I was not in the best of condition! The trail ascends over 1,000 feet in just over one mile. While there are plenty of benches and rest areas along the way, my competitors friends didn’t feel the need to stop!

But we made it. And passed a bunch of ill-prepared people along the way. For example, there were at least four jorts (jean shorts) sightings; one man was hiking wearing black jeans; one man had what looked like snow-gear from long pants, big puffy jacket, and gloves; and at least one woman was wearing flip-flops. If I struggled wearing shorts and hiking boots, I couldn’t imagine how these people made it to the top (if they even did).

Some of the pictures from the hike:

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Colorado River. Gorgeous day for a hike!

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View from the trailhead of the Colorado River.

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Unfortunately, no dogs allowed on the Hanging Lake Trail. 🙁

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View from the ascent to Hanging Lake.

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One of the many waterfalls along the trail.

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View from the ascent to Hanging Lake.

You know you are getting close to the top when you cross bridge number seven:

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You cross seven bridges as you climb.


The climb up the rock steps that seem carved right into the cliff are a bit scary, but at least there was a railing.  And then when you get to the top, a boardwalk greets you (thanks Boy Scouts!) and there you are: Hanging Lake.

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Boardwalk thanks to the Boy Scouts.

Hanging Lake gets its name because it seems to hang on the edge of Glenwood Canyon. In the picture above, the lake is to the left and to the right is the edge of the cliff. The lake is formed from a geologic fault and the water continually deposits calcium carbonate around the edges. As a result of this sensitive ecosystem, you are not allowed to swim, fish, or bring pets (sorry Cayman and Casey!) But the natural beauty is worth it. The lake is so clear I easily spotted a bunch of trout. The aquamarine of the water is even evident in the pictures I took on my iPhone.

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Hanging Lake, Colorado

Once you spend some time exploring around the lake, don’t forget to hike up a little bit more towards Spouting Rock – which is a waterfall that spouts out of the face of the rock. The day we were there was early in the summer, so the waterfall was overflowing above the ‘spout’:

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Spouting Rock above Hanging Lake, CO

Just when we got cooled off, both from no longer hiking up up up, but from checking out the sites, it was time to head back down. But first, I had to take a #selfie:

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#ButFirstLetMeTakeASelfie

For more information about this hike, check out Hiking in Colorado’s description of the Hanging Lake hike. Also, check out this great video of Hanging Lake that I found on youTube:

Have you hiked Hanging Lake? What did you think of it?

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