An ultra-popular hike to an idyllic lake fed by waterfalls.
- 4.8 km
- 322 m
- 323 m
- 1-2 hrs
- Low Point
- 1.9 km
- High Point
- 2.2 km
Hanging Lake is one of the most famous—and arguably, one of the most beautiful—hikes in all of Colorado. Wispy waterfalls pour into the green waters of the pristine lake while massive rock cliffs tower overhead. The vegetation in the narrow mountain valley is lush and verdant, having narrowly escaped destruction in a recent wildfire.
Thanks to Hanging Lake's fame and incredible beauty, this hike is incredibly popular. A permit system was recently enacted to help control the human impact and vandalism that was plaguing the area. At the time of this writing, permits cost $12 per person. According to VisitGlenwood.com, "hiking permits are available for hourly reservations starting at 6:30 am – 5:30 pm. Hikers will not be allowed to access the trailhead after 5:45 pm." You can find information on how to book a permit on their website.
The hike itself is short, but it does climb a steep series of switchbacks as it climbs from the bottom of Glenwood Canyon up to the lake hanging high above. Due to the high amount of traffic, the trail is quite overbuilt, with resting places along the hike and "handrails on especially tricky parts of the trail to help keep you moving in the right direction," according to Colorado.com.
When you reach the lake, plan to spend a good amount of time absorbing the incredible beauty of this otherworldly setting! "A walkway surrounds the lake, from which you can gaze into its hypnotic waters and spy the native trout frittering within," writes Colorado.com.
Note that Hanging Lake is an extremely fragile natural environment. Pets are not allowed on this trail at all. Swimming and fishing aren't allowed in the lake—in fact, you're not allowed to touch the water. Also, Colorado.com notes that "standing under, behind or on top of the waterfalls and walking on the fallen trees within the lake" are also forbidden. We all need to do our part and abide by these modest rules to help keep this gorgeous lake pristine for future generations.
Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.
Best time to visit
- Water features