Hikers flock to Hanging Lake
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – This has been anything but the trail less traveled.
Since the reopening of the Hanging Lake trail on Aug. 16, hikers have gone to the area in droves.
“It’s been overwhelming,” said Pat Thrasher, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest. “This is more than we anticipated. It’s the consequence of the trail being closed for three months.”
He said that officials from the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation can’t remember the trail and the Hanging Lake rest area being so jam-packed.
The Forest Service doesn’t keep official numbers on visitors to Hanging Lake, but it’s estimated that 80,000 hikers a year make the trek.
The Forest Service even stationed a ranger at the rest area to handle traffic and parking control on the weekends, which since Aug. 16 have seen a huge number of visitors. The parking area has been packed to capacity, forcing people to wait for openings, park illegally or find alternative transportation to the trailhead from the Grizzly Creek or Bair Ranch rest areas.
Thrasher said trail traffic should lessen some now that Labor Day is over, but he has some simple advice for locals who might want to hike the picturesque, 1.5-mile trail.
“I would recommend that they do it in the middle of the week,” he said.
The trail was closed for most of the summer due to construction of a new boardwalk and work to keep sediment from draining into the lake.
Thrasher said there will be one more midweek closure of the trail, bike path and rest area so a helicopter can bring the rest of the material from the boardwalk work off the mountain.
The hiking trail will be closed the weekend of Sept. 18-19 for more work to be done.
Two volunteer groups, Outdoor Colorado and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, will conduct work on switchbacks, building stone steps and perform overall maintenance on the trail.
Volunteers are still needed for next weekend’s trail work. Volunteers must preregister to ensure adequate quantities of tools, supplies and food are available. To register with Outdoor Colorado, for one or both days, go to http://www.voc.org, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-715-1010, extension 112. The minimum age to volunteer is 16. Volunteers should bring water and work gloves, and wear sunscreen, sturdy boots and layered clothing.
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