Visitors to the ever-popular Hanging Lake just off Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon will no longer be able to drive to the trailhead starting in May 2019.
They'll have to bike, walk or take a shuttle from the Glenwood Springs area during the peak tourist season, the Forest Service announced Friday. And they'll need a permit, too.
More than 180,000 visitors made the steep 2.8-mile hike to Hanging Lake in 2017, Mayville said. The trail's popularity, and a spate of abuse by visitors, have led the Forest Service to restrict access.
"We want people to be able to visit these beautiful places in Colorado," said Aaron Mayville, a Forest Service district ranger. "But we need them to do it responsibly."
The Forest Service also set daily capacity at 615 hikers per day to protect the area.
The city of Glenwood Springs will co-manage the reservation and shuttle systems with the Forest Service. Shuttle details, including prices, will be announced in coming months.
Mayville acknowledged restricting access has its downsides. But he said the lake's fragile ecosystem—and visitors' experiences—should improve under the new management plan.
"There won't be as much trail crowding," he said. "Fewer people and less crowding means less infractions and less environmental damage."