Hanging Lake worth wintertime visit | AspenTimes.com

Hanging Lake worth wintertime visit

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Hanging Lake outside of Glenwood Springs proved a less crowded, but still breathtaking destination during a wintertime hike. (Janet Urquhart/The Aspen Times)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Presidents Day weekend is prime time for ski vacationers, which made it the ideal time to do something else, in my opinion.

So I made good on a long-standing vow to visit Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon ” in wintertime.

It had probably been a decade since I trudged up this short, but steep hike to the aptly named lake, perched on a ledge above the canyon below it. It’s an amazing site, as anyone who’s been there knows ” multiple waterfalls cascade from the far end of the small lake into an emerald pool that looks like something straight out of the tropics instead of the Rocky Mountains. The water is so clear, you can watch the trout fin about nonchalantly (no fishing allowed).

The lake is, unfortunately, as popular as it is scenic and my last visit, on a sunny weekend, discouraged my return. The trail ” 1,020 feet in 1.2 miles, according to the sign at the trailhead ” was packed with people, half of whom looked like they might keel over from the exertion.

The boardwalk around the near side of the lake was ringed with people, and though no dogs are allowed, dogs were running about and a couple of young men were jumping into the water, though that, too, is not permitted in the fragile environment. I’d seen enough.

I decided then I’d only return in wintertime ” when the waterfalls would be frozen columns of ice. I’d been to the lake several times, but never to see it in its winter splendor.

Saturday was the day. Traction devices were a good call for my hiking boots, as a narrow trail had been packed out through the deep snow. Only at the very top was the slippery slope of a trail a bit dicey. There were a handful of people on the trail, and most were coming down, as I didn’t start up until noonish. At the lake, I found perhaps six other people ” hardly the kind of crowd that destroys the experience.

It wasn’t cold enough to catch the lake and falls locked in ice. In fact, the lake was its usual, rippling emerald self. Parts of the falls were massive columns of ice, but other sections were pouring into the water as usual. Perfect.

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