Hanging Lake Trail To Close Indefinitely Due To Damage From Mudslides

August 18, 2021
Hanging Lake is closed indefinitely due to major damage sustained to the trail by the July 29 mudslide in the Grizzly Creek burn scar. Hanging Lake is closed indefinitely due to major damage sustained to the trail by the July 29 mudslide in the Grizzly Creek burn scar. Provided by White River National Forest
Hanging Lake is closed indefinitely due to major damage sustained to the trail by the July 29 mudslide in the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

Due to damage sustained by mudslides in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area, Hanging Lake will be closed for the foreseeable future, officials announced Wednesday. 

The lake itself is fine, although it looks a little murky due to mud. However, debris from the July 29 mudslide caused major damage to the trail leading up to the lake. The flash flood that triggered the mudslide also mangled part of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, trapping more than a hundred motorists and causing more than $100 million in damage.

“We've had bridges completely washed out and much of the trail as you go up is under a debris field of some sort or another,” White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said.

Photos provided by the Forest Service show the trail covered by fallen trees, mud, and rocks. In some areas, the river has overflowed, covering walking paths. 

Provided by White River National Forest
Hanging Lake is closed indefinitely due to major damage sustained to the trail by the July 29 mudslide in the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

A “complete reconstruction” is needed before the popular tourist attraction can reopen, which will close the trail for the rest of the season and potentially next year’s season. Officials could not give an estimate of how long it would take or how much it would cost. Fitzwilliams said there is no contingency fund for emergencies like this.

Ken Murphy, who runs the reservation system for the lake, said about 15,000 reservations will have to be cancelled due to the closure. He said Hanging Lake’s closure is a significant economic hit to the area but reminded people that other local tourist attractions remain open. 

The National Forest Foundation is starting a fund to which individuals and companies can donate to restore the Hanging Lake trail.

With rain still in the forecast, Hanging Lake may still see additional damage if there are more mudslides in the area. 

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