Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hanging Lake


Before my husband and I drove home from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, in early October, where we celebrated our anniversary, we had one more sight we wanted to visit. As we drove early in the morning alongside the Colorado River, within the steep fall foliage lined Glenwood Canyon walls, we headed towards the most popular hike in Colorado, and one of the most unique and beautiful sights in the state--Hanging Lake.  Since moving to Colorado, I had seen many photos of Hanging Lake, which is located high up in a canyon that branches off Interstate 70, about seven miles east of Glenwood Springs. Along with the Maroon Bells Mountains, which we also saw on this trip--click here to read that post--it is one of the most photographed places in Colorado.  I was filled with trepidation, however, as although the hike is short one, at 1.2 mile, it is also very steep, a thousand feet elevation gain to an elevation of 7,200 feet (2194.5 m), and the trail is full of rocks and boulders to climb over, giving it a "difficult" rating.


Hanging Lake is part of the White River National Forest, and attracts 1,100 visitors on an average day in summer! As Colorado's population grows, and the state becomes more popular with visitors, many new regulations will soon go into effect limiting visitation to protect the fragile natural beauty of sites such as Hanging Lake. More about that later in this post. We hoped that since we were visiting mid week, and after peak season, there would not be many people on the trail, but when we pulled into the parking lot a Ranger told us we would have to wait on a line of cars for a parking spot for an estimated 45 minutes!


Happily, our wait was less than thirty minutes, and we parked and began walking towards the trail head.

Please click on to enlarge.

The views along this flat section of the long walkway are beautiful. There was a sign explaining how the 1.5 acre lake was formed by a geologic fault that caused the lake bed to drop away from the valley floor above.  Dogs, fishing, swimming, and camping are not allowed in the area to protect the fragile environment.

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When we reached the trail head we soon found out that the description that there were many rocks to climb over was not an exaggeration!

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Up, up, up, my husband and I climbed. Sometimes the rocks were arranged as steps, and sometimes there were brief sections of rocky soil. All the while as we climbed Dead Horse Creek flowed down, at times in small waterfalls. The moist canyon air allowed ferns to grow, an unusual sight to see in high altitude and usually low humidity Colorado environment.


The trail switch backed over the creek, with around seven wooden footbridges. There were a few benches along the way, near some of the footbridges, to allow for rest.


The trail is narrow, so slower hikers (us) yielded to faster hikers, both going up and down. Everyone we met on the trail was very encouraging. Most of the hikers were in their 20's to 40's and there were many families. The hikers that were descending kept telling us to keep going, that the sight was worth it! One lady told me to be sure to continue up to see Spouting Rock after seeing the lake, which I'm glad she did!


At one point I turned around to see how high we had traveled up the canyon and saw this beautiful sight!


When we reached these pretty waterfalls we knew we were in the last stretch of the trail! The last stretch is also the steepest and narrowest part of the hike, so I really had to put forth my last burst of energy to make it up the very steep and high rock steps.  We climbed and climbed and finally reached flat ground where we saw a sign for Spouting Rock on a continuation of the trail even higher. Instead, we walked ahead to a boardwalk, turned a corner, and saw our first sight of.....


Hanging Lake!


What a beautiful and breathtaking place it is! We admit that tears of joy came to our eyes when we first saw it, The tears were a combination of realizing we actually accomplished a very strenuous hike for two retirees, and tears because it was even more beautiful than we hoped! Photos just don't do the whole scene justice.


Bridal Veil Falls run over travertine walls into..... 


..crystal clear aquamarine colored water. The color is formed by carbonate minerals in the water.



Above is a video I took of Hanging Lake that is on my blog's facebook site at this link. (You may have to turn the sound on by touching the "x" next to the microphone on the lower right corner) As you can see, and hear, the water flows quickly, and the pretty foliage around the lake bed is lush and gives an exotic garden appearance to the lake.


There is a nice boardwalk with benches that surrounds most of the lake that we walked around to take photos.


A close up of one section of the falls...


..and the other section.


We walked around to the far shore where the iconic tree log lies in the water. There is a sign that says "please stay off the log" but sadly there have been instances of people not doing so.  Happily, all the visitors behaved themselves during our visit. Any contact with the water has an effect of its ecological balance, so visitors are asked to have no contact with it. This website has good FAQ's regarding visiting Hanging Lake.


The autumn foliage surrounding the lake really enhanced its beauty.



One last look!

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After spending time at Hanging Lake we felt rested enough to climb even higher on the trail to Spouting Rock.  As you can see by the notice added to the sign, changes are coming to how many people can visit Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock. Over 150,000 people visited the area in 2016, and the US Forest Service has realized that measures need to be taken to ensure safety and to preserve the natural beauty of the area, especially because, sadly, in the past few years there have been incidents of vandalism in the area and people not obeying rules. There are PDF files on this US Forest Service website that explain the reasons behind the change and the proposals being considered. Most likely visitors will be required to have a permit (free), and will be limited in number, and will be required to use a shuttle bus service to and from the parking area during peak season, most likely May to October. 

We climbed higher and were amazed to see Spouting Rock!


For centuries water has eroded a passage through the limestone to exit out a sheer cliff wall as a spectacular waterfall. 



This is a video of me standing near the falls on my Mille Fiori Facebook facebook page at this link. (Again, you may have to turn on the sound) As you can see and hear, they are pretty powerful!


To see what the falls look and sound like from behind it,  go to my MilleFioriFavoriti Instagram at this link Place your cursor over the photo to see the video play arrow on the Instagram page.

You can also follow my entire Instagram feed on this link to see more photos from my travels and my everyday life.


Hiking back down the 1.2 mile trail to the parking lot took us almost as long as hiking up the trail. We regretted that we did not have our hiking poles to help us with stability. The 1,000 foot steep trail down was hard on my knees and feet as momentum and gravity was carrying me forward and I had to be careful not to fall. We were tired, but we were also a little giddy and exhilarated! The hike is expected to take 2 to four hours to accomplish round trip, and we were in the 4 hour range because we also stopped for water breaks and to allow faster hikers to pass us.

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We were back on the "grand boulevard" of  Interstate highway 70,   that runs through the 12.5 mile Glenwood Canyon.  The canyon section of the interstate is called the most celebrated part of interstate highway system in the United States.

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We passed magnificent Colorado scenery on our drive. All the way home we kept talking about how happy we were that we did the Hanging Lake hike, and how proud we were that we were even able to accomplish it! It was truly an achievement for us and a memory we will always cherish.

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51 comments:

Linda W. said...

What a wonderful place! I can see why it's so popular. Sadly, a lot of hikes in Oregon are like that too. And some places the Forest service requires permits to hike and limits the numbers of people per day. If it helps preserve these special places, I'm all for it.

Lady Fi said...

Wow - that is lovely! And such a great adventure amidst all that beauty.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, what a lovely drive and hike. The waterfalls are beautiful. I enjoyed the video, you can stand behind the falls, that is neat.

Great post and photos. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead.

Barb said...

Pat - I can feel your exuberance in this post. I have not hiked Hanging Lake for about 15 years, mainly because of its popularity. However, I’ve often biked the Rec path along the river and see all the hikers heading for the trail. The lake is a wondrous sight - however, I read last year that it was vandalized and restrictions would soon be necessary. So many of CO’s natural wonders are suffering from too many visitors. I’m glad you and Vinny have this special memory to share.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

How beautiful! Thank you for sharing these amazing pictures.

Michelle said...

Pat, you have the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful states I have ever visited. I know you are enjoying it so much. I LOVE all of your photos!

The Furry Gnome said...

It certainly is a spectacular place! Enjoyed the video. Don't know whether to be sad or glad over sky-rocketing visitor numbers at so many parks. Found the same thing here at one our favourite hikes this summer.

ellen b. said...

So very lovely! Thanks for taking us along!

Ruth Hiebert said...

The scenes you shared are gorgeous.At my age, that hike sounds like it is out of my reaches I best enjoy it via your images.

Jeanie said...

Isn't the world an amazing place? I admire your high climb and all the beauty you saw in Colorado. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Georgeous! Every time you post, I think I need to book mark this place for my next visit to colorado. Have a great week.

Michele said...

Oh, my goodness! WOW!!!!

I have never heard of Hanging Lake - and I am sooooo pleased to have visited your wonderful mosaics about this hike! Thank you so much!

I really enjoyed the videos, too - you really made me feel as though I actually went there.

I am sooooooooooooo impressed you both hiked it - what an excellent anniversary present to one another. Heck, I need to work on my physical activity - I can barely walk to the mailbox. You inspired me in more ways than I could ever tell you. Thanks for that, too! : - )

Have a wonderful week.

Maggie said...

Dear Pat you have taken me on some wonderful hikes over the past year or so on Mosaic Mondays but my dear I think you have excelled yourself this week!
Hanging Lake and it's stunning surroundings is amazing, how adventurous you both were to take this hiking path and then continue on even further. Well done you!
Always a pleasure to have your company on Monday morning.
Maggie.

Molly said...

The hanging lake looks fabulous. What a beautiful place

Mollyx

Snap said...

Wow! Wow! Hanging Lake is stunning ... the images take my breath away. I can imagine how amazing it must be in person. Wow!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Your post was another amazing adventure with you. Beautiful images.

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful and scenic place. I like those rocky formations.

Felicia said...

What a fabulous, gorgeous lake. We didn't hike to it when we visited because of the steepness and my aging parents. I should have went it alone but I finally got to see it through your lens.

handmade by amalia said...

I can't think when I've seen a more beautiful lake. And the waterfalls! A little bit of paradise.
Amalia
xo

Angela said...

Lovely images! Makes me want to go there.

jeannettestgermain said...

Wow, so gorgeous, Pat! Happy you persevered and continued to all these stunning water fall and lake views. Thank you so much for treating All Seasons with these views! Now I'ld like to go there and paint the waterfalls, and am already plotting when the lines would be shorter than 45 min. to get in!
Have a gorgeous week!

Lydia C. Lee said...

Wow! The water is so clear!!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh Pat! This is just incredible....amazing. First of all, huge congrats for making that difficult hike.... it was obviously well worth it ..but I doubt if I could do it and I know Bill couldn't. Huge thanks for sharing the wonder...absolutely stunning find and equally stunning photography.

NC Sue said...

Wow. That's gorgeous!
Thanks for letting us know about this place. If I get out your way again, I'll have to check it out!
And thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/10/blacksmiths-at-work.html

Lowcarb team member said...

Oh these photographs are just spectacular, what a gorgeous place you visited.

All the best Jan

Tom said...

...there are some mighty beautiful places in this country and you have found one of them! Thanks for sharing this eye candy. What might you have next?

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You were rewarded for your hike! Such amazing sights ...so pristine. We've gotten so accustomed to our 'flat land' hikes that we would be shocked to actually climb these trails! I'm glad you took lots of pics to share! Sweet hugs, Diane

Angie said...

Pat - both Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock are spectacular. I especially liked the color of the water at Hanging Lake. Congratulations on this hiking achievement - I can tell it meant a lot to you and it was worth it! I am glad to hear that they are taking measures to preserve this lovely area for generations to come. Have a great week!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Wowza! What a treat to see, to climb, to experience! Thanks for sharing. Reading your words and seeing your photos I want to go out into the wilderness. It's been decades.

Andrea said...

Oh My God, it really is breath-taking, literally and all. I also believe you when tears fall down your cheeks because it is very beautiful after a very strenuous climb for retirees. But here instead of having tears, i laughed as i realized what you were saying! We have many lakes "hanging lakes"here, but not as beautiful because there are no colorful autumn leaves around, hahaha. By the way, i love more the cascades than the lake, and i think i want to linger there more.

Photo Cache said...

Wow, that is incredible. The views are spectacular and worth the hike.

Worth a Thousand Words

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

Oh my! I asked you about this place last week. So glad you visited. I do not like steep trails but I will give my best shot at this. It is a bit crazy to think how some places get crowded. I returned today from Tahoe and the Emerald Bay area was chock full of people even though we are out of season and it was kind of cold. We had to move on since there was not a single parking spot or wait area on sight. We were able to stop by later during the day. These places need better management plans.

Valerie said...

A wonderful series of captures here Pat. Thank you for sharing the outing.

Tamar SB said...

Gorgoeus!

carol l mckenna said...

Wow! What a place ~ There is so much to see in this country and you and hubby are seeing it! Taking wonderful photos and videos and enjoyed your photo tour so much ~ lovely ~ magnificent! So glad you are enjoying your retirement ~ ^_^

Love and light,

A ShutterBug Explores ~ aka ~ (A Creative Harbor)

A Colorful World said...

You live in one of the most beautiful states in this country! People who have not visited Colorado, are missing out! We loved it so much when we lived there when our daughter was born, and in later visits, but here is so much we haven't seen! I love seeing your latest explorations! This would be such a wonderful place to go. Alas, our hiking days are over, but I thoroughly enjoyed your photos and videos...they let me "see" it the best way possible for me. Wow...a thirty minute wait in October just to get parked! :-) This is certainly not a secret!

Sharon Wagner said...

It does look like a magical place. A hard to reach spot definitely makes you appreciate the beauty even more. I've been to a few like that.

podso said...

What an adventure! The hanging lake is amazing and such a beautiful green color. Another one for our list when we are back in CO sometime.

Al said...

This is high on the list of Colorado places that I want to see but haven't yet. There are a lot of them as it's an amazing state!

Weekend-Windup said...

WOW! No words are there to describe the beauty of it. Really enjoyed going through your post. Sounds that it would be a wonderful place to visit:)

Mandy 'n' Justin said...

I had to click to see what a "hanging lake" was and I'm so glad I did! The waterfalls side by side with the beautiful fall leaves are truly outstanding! Thank you for sharing! :)

With Love,
Mandy

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow. Kudos to you both for making that hike. What spectacular scenery you were rewarded with.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Inspiring autumn mountain photos with plenty of blue!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Stunning scenery....love the blue water!
Thanks for sharing your journey.

Rambling Woods said...

Wow, I love the waterfalls Pat. I hope that these areas will still be protected but the President keeps destroying things... Michelle

Lorrie said...

What an amazing place! I can understand why tears sprang to your eyes. The effort of reaching such a beautiful place is considerable. Yet, you persevered! Hooray for both of you. We did a similar hike this past summer (very steep, but without the sensational scenery) and I know it would have take you much hard work.
I can see why it's such a popular place, and I'm glad steps are being taken to preserve it.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

I've never heard of Hanging Lake, but what a beautiful spot!! Love that crystal clear water and all the falls. Another one to add to my bucket list!!

diane b said...

Well done you two it sure sounded like a difficult climb. But what a fantastic reward, It is magnificent.

Michelle said...

I always appreciate you linking up and sharing your gorgeous state of Colorado!!

Michelle Leslie said...

OMW Pat, what a STUNNING place. Your photos literally took my breath away and the videos, I can watch them forvere. It feels like I'm actually there. Just beautiful

Denise inVA said...

Oh wow, breathtakingly beautiful. An impressive hike but what a rewarding experience at the end of it. Your photos and video are awesome Pat, thank you so much for sharing.