A Hanging Lake Trail Hiking Guide Plus Things to do in Glenwood Springs in One Day
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Of all the things to do in Glenwood Springs, we were most looking forward to spending time at Hanging Lake. But, upon arriving in Glenwood Springs from Aspen we were shocked at the traffic heading towards the exit for Hanging Lake Trail.
Seeing many signs along the way with their bright flashing lights screaming “EXIT FOR HANGING LAKE CLOSED” and “NO PARKING AVAILABLE TURN AROUND” was definitely discouraging when we had planned to spend only a day in Glenwood Springs hiking.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you this. After all, you’re probably just wanting to hear all about the things to do in Glenwood Springs in a day. But hang with me. The reason I’m going into all this is to give you an alternative parking spot in case you are unable to park at the entrance of the park.
We decided to try visiting anyways and just like we thought we would be, we were prompted to turn around. We typically try to visit such attractions in early mornings, late evenings, or off-season if possible. On this day, none of those options worked with our schedule so we were determined to find a way to make our plans work.
We headed back a few exits to a walking path we had seen called Grizzly Creek that followed along the Colorado River and ventured right up to the Hanging Lake trailhead, the popular Glenwood Springs hiking trail.
- FYI: Going this way does add 4 miles (one-way) to your trek to the top of Hanging Lake but if you want to see the beauty here and can’t park at the trailhead, it’ll be worth the extra miles!
After walking the extra 4 miles on Grizzly Creek Path to get to Hanging Lake Trailhead we were already pretty tired (we’ll blame the hiking we had done in days prior, the heat, and the altitude on this. ;)) But, the hike up to Hanging Lake isn’t too bad but can be rocky and steep in many areas. We stopped along the way up a number of times to take in the scenery.
By the time we reached the top of Hanging Lake Trail, we were pretty exhausted. But boy is the view INCREDIBLY worth it and you’ll soon see why this is one of the best things to do in Glenwood Springs. The vivid colors of Hanging Lake make this spot almost surreal.
Many people think that Hanging Lake looks similar to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. What do you think?
Travel Tips for Hanging Lake Trail
As of May 2019, Hanging Lake Trail is no longer a free hike. Advanced permits are required along with a $12/person fee. You can check-out the Government Guide to Hanging Lake Trail for more details.
- Arrange your schedule so you are able to park at the Hanging Lake trailhead early in the morning (the lack of parking may be solved by the advanced permits).
- Bring adequate water and snacks: It truly is nice to relax once you have hiked a long way. This day we only brought a small amount of water and some protein bars which we devoured on the trail. This left us starving during our walk back on Grizzly Creek path. Had we realized how much more walking we were going to be doing we would have brought something else to eat and more water.
- You can park at the Grizzly Creek path but be prepared to walk eight extra miles that day! The path itself isn’t challenging by any means but after hiking multiple days like us you may feel more exhausted.
Main Rules for Hanging Lake Trail
- No dogs are allowed on the trail.
- No drones are allowed in the park.
- Stay on the designated trails (not manmade trails) and the boardwalk that goes around the lake. Under NO circumstances should anyone enter the water or step on the logs.
Other Things to do in Glenwood Springs & Where to Eat in Glenwood Springs
After hiking Hanging Lake Trail, you’ll probably be ready for a nice lunch so head to the quaint downtown area of Glenwood Springs (another one of the best things to do in Glenwood Springs) and gorge yourself at Glenwood Canyon Brewery. Grab a few of their craft beers (some of the best we had in Colorado) and accompany the brews with some terrific food too! We recommend their nachos and wings.
Address: 402 7th St, Hotel Denver
After eating we decided to walk around downtown Glenwood Springs and then stop at the Glenwood Springs Hot Spring Pool. Which is also apparently the world’s largest hot spring. While we believe this is a “tourist trap” it was nice to soak our aching muscles in the 105°F water of this steamy hot spring.
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