Hanging Lake feeling the pressures of its popularity | AspenTimes.com

Hanging Lake feeling the pressures of its popularity

It has been a few years since I have hiked up to Hanging Lake. After all the reports of vandalism of this beautiful area, I thought I would take a hike up to see the damage for myself.

What a difference a few years makes. I arrived at 5:30 a.m. to beat the crowds. A few people were already there. I was surprised at the wide dusty trails and the loss of vegetation along the trail. Some of my favorite trees were gone and some were carved with graffiti. The birds are still there and it was fun to sit for a while and watch a demanding young dipper who never stopped bouncing on a rock in the creek, mom flying in with the goodies over and over again. The old cabin on the side of the trail is roped off because of vandalism (someone decided to use it as their toilet). A new railing is at the end on the last steep climb. Be careful on the first rail as it is not fixed and swings from side to side.

The lake is still beautiful but there is not the life in the water as in the past. Spouting Rock trail is roped on side to try to keep people out of the delicate wet areas. The falls had an abundance of water. There were many people on the trail latter that morning and while almost all I encountered were pleasant and looking forward to a hike up to the lake, the hike down was demanding. The volume of traffic coming up the trail made it unpleasant to hike down. I hate to say it, but I think it is time to limit access to this area to a manageable number of visitors per day and save this area before more damage is done.

Gail Owens


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