Officials to monitor runoff into Hanging Lake as visitors return to Glenwood Canyon trail in May

Shannon Marvel
Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

Hanging Lake will once again be taking visitors starting May 1.

That’s according to David Boyd, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest.

Boyd said the U.S. Forest Service is working with Glenwood Springs officials to reopen the 1.2-mile trail to visitors who have obtained permits through Visit Glenwood Springs.

The pristine, turquoise waters and the trail leading to it has been closed to the public since the Grizzly Creek Fire torched the area surrounding the lake and it’s trails in 2020

Boyd said the structures along the trail and area right around the lake were untouched by the fire.

“The main thing we worry about after a fire is debris flow and sedimentation,” Boyd said.

“Hanging Lake is this beautiful, clear water and so there could be impacts resulting from a big push of sediment, but we just don’t know because we haven’t seen it yet.”

Boyd said work will be ongoing throughout the summer to stabilize trails that came close to areas that were burned by last summer’s fire.

From there, the lake water will be closely monitored to see if there’s any impacts due to runoff.

“The hydrology is complicated and not very well understood,” Boyd said of Hanging Lake.

The Glenwood Springs City Council is expected to amend their Hanging Lake Shuttle Service contract with H20 Ventures to align with plans where no shuttle transportation would be provided.

Instead, people who have obtained a permit will be allowed to drive their own vehicle to the Hanging Lake parking lot.

“The Forest Service believes that it will be easier for people to evacuate in case of a sudden thunderstorm that could cause a life threatening debris or mudflow,” meeting documents state.

“The limits on people allowed will still be enforced by H2O Ventures and funding will still be collected for the Forest Service to help protect Hanging Lake into the future.”

H20 Ventures will operate a check-in service at the gate house. Visitors without tickets will be turned away and instructed to purchase tickets online or by phone before returning. Traffic will be controlled by a supervisor stationed in the parking lot.

The amendment to the contract will remain in effect until Nov. 30 if passed during Thursday night’s meeting. The condition of Hanging Lake and status of the public health emergency will then be evaluated.

The U.S. Forest Service will determine whether to extend the amendment or allow the city to operate under the original terms of its contract with H20 Ventures.