Hanging Lake: A Breathtaking Hike through Glenwood Canyon, CO

Looking for a challenging hike with a jaw-dropping reward? Look no further than Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado. 

Hanging Lake - Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

A photo of Hanging Lake's turquoise waters framed by lush greenery and cascading waterfalls.
A photo of Hanging Lake's turquoise waters framed by lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. Source: Wikipedia 


Hanging Lake is a stunning alpine lake located in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado. The lake is suspended 1,200 feet above the Colorado River, and its unique beauty makes it a popular destination for hikers and photographers.

The hike to Hanging Lake is challenging, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. The trail is 1.2 miles long and gains 1,000 feet in elevation. It is rocky and steep in some sections, so be sure to wear proper footwear and be in good physical condition.

Getting There:

Start your journey at the Grizzly Creek Rest Area (Exit 121) on I-70, just east of Glenwood Springs. A word of caution for westbound travelers: due to ongoing construction in the canyon, you'll need to turn around at Exit 116 instead. Don't let this detour deter you – the stunning scenery will erase any frustration in no time.

The Hike:

The 1.2-mile trail to Hanging Lake winds through a lush forest alongside Dead Horse Creek. Be prepared for a moderate to strenuous climb, with an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet. The path features switchbacks, rocky sections, and wooden boardwalks, making it accessible for most hikers with a sense of adventure.

As you ascend, keep your eyes peeled for Spouting Rock, a natural spring that cascades down the cliff face, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The rhythmic gushing of the water adds to the serene ambiance of the hike.

The Grand Finale:

Finally, after rounding a bend, the majestic Hanging Lake comes into view. Suspended precariously above the canyon floor, the lake's turquoise waters shimmer like a jewel against the backdrop of towering cliffs. Bridal Veil Falls, cascading gracefully into the lake, completes the picture-perfect scene.

Take a moment to soak in the awe-inspiring vista and appreciate the unique geological formation. Hanging Lake is a travertine lake, formed by mineral deposits from the cascading falls. This rare phenomenon creates a breathtaking natural wonder unlike any other.

Tips for Your Hike:

  • Permits: Hanging Lake is a protected area, and permits are required year-round. Purchase your permit online at visitglenwood.com/hanginglake before your trip.
  • Best Time to Go: Spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures and vibrant foliage. Summer can be hot and crowded, while winter brings icy conditions and potential closures.
  • Wear proper footwear: Sturdy hiking boots are essential for navigating the rocky terrain.
  • Pack plenty of water: Stay hydrated throughout the hike, especially in warm weather.
  • Leave no trace: Respect the fragile ecosystem by packing out all your trash and staying on designated trails.

A Hike to Remember:

Hanging Lake is more than just a hike; it's an experience that will stay with you long after you've returned home. The challenging trail, the breathtaking scenery, and the unique geological marvel combine to create a truly unforgettable adventure. So lace up your boots, grab your permit, and embark on your own journey to this magical spot in the heart of Glenwood Canyon. Learn more about Hanging Lake rules.


For those familiar with hikes on the East Coast, imagine Hanging Lake as a blend of Angel's Rest in Virginia and Sharp Top. The rocky terrain and steep inclines might be familiar, but the unique scenery and suspended lake will leave you breathless.

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