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Hanging Lake Trail

MODERATE 1625 reviews

Hanging Lake Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Glenwood Springs, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,135 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

bird watching

cave

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

Hanging Lake Trail is one of Colorado's most visited and beautiful short hikes. Perched high in the mountains, the trail takes you along Dead Horse Creek and through the rocky Glenwood Canyon. It is a national natural landmark in the White River National Forest near Glenwood Springs, Colorado that can be reached easily from Denver. The trailhead is at a rest stop just off I-70 and the parking area is right next to the Colorado River. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes 2-4 hours. This steep hike has many large rocks and steps. Don't forget to follow the signs at the top to Spouting Rock, where snow-melt water from the Flat Tops pours out a hole in the limestone cliff. [NOTE: Because of its fragile ecosystem, visitors are not allowed to enter the water or climb on the logs in the lake. Please stay on the trail and obey posted signs in this unique and fragile environment.] If you hike this in the winter it may be icy and you will need crampons.

hiking
1 day ago

Beautiful hike! Strenuous getting up there but so worth it. Lots of kids and dogs

hiking
2 days ago

Trail is gorgeous but completely covered in snow and ice, per previous reviews. I completed it without yaktraks, but it was a slow, often scary hike (especially the steep and icy descent down). As the other reviews mention, the top of the trail right before the lake is not for the faint of heart. Not much holds you back from slipping off the side of a very steep cliff. Definitely worth the trip up though.

hiking
2 days ago

Great exhilarating and treacherous hike! We hiked in a least 3ft of packed snow and was quite icy in spots. Especially dangerous near the top where the handrail is only 4 inches above the snow! It would be easy to slide off the edge. Luckily there were some very helpful and friendly hikers that helped us over the tricky parts at the top. Coloradans are great! Took us twice as long as it should have due to the snow and icy conditions over 3/4 of the trail. Highly recommend ice clamp ons, poles, and snow pants for sliding down the mountain as walking is difficult at best. Would like to do this hike again in the late spring or summer. Lake is amazing and well worth the effort.

hiking
snow
4 days ago

Almost didn't do this hike because of the scary reviews! So glad we tried it anyway! We are experienced hikers in the mountains and are well adjusted to these altitudes, but I do have a pretty healthy fear of heights that has made us not be able to complete some hikes. This was not one of them! I would classify this as easy to moderate as long as you are properly equipped. We had on good hiking boots with yaktrax and hiking poles(although I did not think the poles were necessary on this hike). it is definitely very slick in spots, and completely covered in hard packed snow/ice. Although we saw many people without proper shoes complete this hike, they were also sliding all over the place. Get some yaktrax! hanging lake is amazing....and I suppose how difficult this hike is would depend on if you are used to hiking in the mountains and have on the right equipment

hiking
muddy
snow
7 days ago

THIS IS NOT EASY NOR MODERATE due to ice and snow. Trust and believe we saw people crying and many were straight up scared. The entire trail is a total blast and I highly recommend it, but when you get to the super sketch ice area about 500m from the top, if that is scary to you, you’ll struggle with the final challenge, which is the blue railing at the steps to the top. Holy smokes, my bride nearly fell off the side. Interesting what your body will do for ya during fright or flight—who knew she could move like that?! We ended up sliding almost 3/4 of the way down so wear slidey britches, it’s a blast. Crampons are a must on the way up. Very very very beautiful and I’m super glad we went. Anyone of any skill level and do at least a lot of it. It isn’t bad until it’s bad and if your fit and springy, you’ll be fine! Hike your own hike. Definitely going back in the summer.

hiking
scramble
snow
12 days ago

This was my very first hike in Colorado, and first hike at elevation in the snow! My friends and I started mid morning on a Saturday (2/23). The parking lot was pretty full, and we encountered quite a few people on the trail. There was lots of snow, and we decided against snow pants, hiking poles, or snowshoes. I luckily had a pair of Costco silicone shoe spikes I was able to slip on over my hiking boots.

The trail was covered in ice and packed snow - we estimated by about 3 feet deep for most of the trail. The trail was steep in many places, and was a challenging hike to the top. My favorite part was the very slick portion right before you get to the lake. I later found out there are stairs there!

We decided to check out Spouting Rock, and was blown away by it - so much cooler looking than hanging lake (imho).

The trek back down was frightening at times - we literally slid down sections on our bottoms because walking was not possible.

Knowing what we know now, we would have worn the snow pants, would have brought the hiking poles, and would have opted for spikes/crampons. We also would’ve brought snacks - the hike took us more than double the amount of time we thought it would.

I definitely will hike this again, in the summer, for comparison.

hiking
17 days ago

This trail should be rated as difficult now due to the snow and icy trails. It was very dangerous towards the end due to very thick snow covering the stair. It took us about 2-3 hours to get there. However, the view was awesome.

hiking
20 days ago

Beautiful at the top. Lots of narrow stairs. Heavy traffic. Many kids.

hiking
snow
22 days ago

The trail was easy enough WITH SPIKES. There were many points that were slushy or icy and would be difficult or dangerous without spikes. Beautiful short hike - if you go a bit higher up on the left split (40’ away from the hanging lake entrance), there’s a beautiful little waterfall.

25 days ago

This is a beautiful hike went there a couple of years ago. Was a wonderful hike can't believe this Oasis is tucked away in the middle of these mountains. the only drawback is you get to the top to where all that beautiful water is in the heat of the summer and you can't get in the water. However it's wonderful that this place can be preserved for many more to enjoy.

hiking
27 days ago

“Closest we’ve been to death but most beautiful thing we’ve seen” -Jordan

Top hike to date, very icy at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Showed up on a Sunday around 9am with only a couple other cars in the parking lot. The trail was snowy but packed down the whole way through so no need for snowshoes. Definitely would recommend spikes/traction devices and poles if you have them. The stairs at the top are all snowed covered and slick. We had the place to ourselves when we reached the lake. Spouting rock is definitely worth checking out too! On our way down around 11am the trail was getting busy with people coming up and the parking lot full by the time we got down.

hiking
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Absolutely amazing. Don’t hike in bad weather conditions, it’s too slippery. DO NOT attempt without hiking boots/shoes. You will be miserable. And I mean no tennis shoes either. Spikes/crampons are also extremely helpful, as well as poles. Worth every second!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Intense and literally breathtaking, but fabulous. Short hike, but steep. The trail was snow packed and manageable without spikes 4 days ago (2/7), but definitely helpful to have. The top of the trail was pretty sketchy where the stairs are. There was so much snow the stairs weren’t visible, but the railing was super helpful in getting up. The view from the top of the stairs was like a dream.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Great trail in the winter. Yak traks would have been helpful for some sections but we managed fine with just hiking boots. Beautiful and very peaceful.

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked this trail in the end if October and it was gorgeous. The trail was perfect. Of course it is a steep hike in some spots but we stopped a lot to take pictures and enjoy the sites on the way up. Definitely worth the hike hands down.

1 month ago

Made it up in 50 minutes with spikes...incredible beauty!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Hiked 2/2/19 we wore snow boots without spikes and were fine. The top is a bit steep and the bottom is pretty icy because it’s not shaded but overall not bad conditions.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Hiked this on 1/27/19. We wore spikes so it was easy to get up the trail as well as back down (we actually ran down). People who went without spikes were struggling at the top. The railing is low at the very top given the accumulation of snow so people were slow moving and a little scared coming down. I’ve been several times during the spring and summer and I have to say that it is just as beautiful in the winter plus it’s a lot less crowded. It took us less than an hour and a half with spending time at both the waterfall at the top and accounting for the time we spent taking photos at hanging lake.

hiking
1 month ago

1/30 - Great trail with awesome views the whole way up. I did without spikes but they would have been very helpful. It gets pretty slick and icy at parts. It took me about 2 hours round trip. Not much wind really.

Great conditions for a winter hike! Snow packed trail, slippery at some points, but packed down enough that we could see the trail easily. We also had spikes which helped. Sooo beautiful and serene!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Great conditions for a winter hike! Snow packed trail, slippery at some points, but packed down enough that we could see the trail easily. We also had spikes which helped. Sooo beautiful and serene!

recorded Hanging Lake Trail

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked on 1/21, the trail is very snowy, and can be slippery at some steep slope (even with micro spikes), especially near the top. but the trail was absolute beautiful, quite, and it’s super fun to hike on! It took us a little more than 3 hours to complete, because we stopped a lot for taking photos. Lake on the top was half frozen; it’s gorgeous and totally worth the effort.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked on 1/17, lots of wet snow making the trail difficult at the top. Yaktrax were helpful. The lake was mostly frozen.

2 months ago

Beautiful!

hiking
2 months ago

2 months ago

I was able to jog this up and down in just running shoes with a little caution. It’s gorgeous in the winter! Make sure to go the extra couple hundred feet to sprouting rock.

2 months ago

Best hike ever!

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