Hanging Lake: New trail under construction could open by mid-summer

Michael Elizabeth Sakas/CPR News
Hanging Lake as it appeared June 14, 2020.

Construction has started on a new trail to the popular Hanging Lake natural area near Glenwood Springs, according to an official with the White River National Forest. 

The roughly 1.2 mile backcountry path was shuttered last August due to damage from historic mudslides in the burn area of the 2020 Grizzly Creek fire. 

Crews are building a new “primitive” trail, which will feature stream crossings and some sections of scrambling over slide debris, said David Boyd, a public affairs officer with the Forest Service. 

“We’re hoping for that trail to be open by mid-summer,” Boyd said, speaking during an event about Glenwood Canyon repairs. Boyd did not provide a specific date. 

“We’ll get word out on that as soon as we can,” he said. 

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. Hanging Lake itself was spared. 

Photos provided by the Forest Service at the time show the trail covered by fallen trees, mud, and rocks. In some areas, the river overflowed, covering existing 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.

Forest officials canceled roughly 15,000 hiking reservations following the slide. Reservations to visit the lake remain on pause. 

Restoration work is moving along partially thanks to a public fund started by The National Forest Foundation. Great Outdoors Colorado also recently awarded a $2.2 million grant to support the rebuild. 

The grant includes funding for educational signs about the Grizzly Creek fire and mudslides. It’s also helping cover design work for a permanent trail, Boyd said. 

“Because of that (grant), we’ll be able to get this new trail done much faster than we would have otherwise,” Boyd said. “But that will still take a few years.”