Hanging Lake is one of Colorado’s most popular hiking trails in the summer. But the local secret is that it’s best done in the winter.
GLENWOOD CANYON — Long fangs of ice drape from the famous waterfall above Hanging Lake. Water plunges into the turquoise pond, creating a soothing sound, as patches of snow dapple the soaring cliffs that surround one of the most picturesque spots in Colorado.
Hanging Lake is a place so special that it was being loved to death until the U.S. Forest Service partnered with Glenwood Springs last year to control access and limit crowds from May to October — a policy that will be in place again this year — but there’s no need for crowd control in the winter. When we made the 1.2-mile climb of 1,000 vertical feet to the lake recently we saw maybe 30 people, only a dozen or so while we were at the lake itself.
On that hike, we uncovered Hanging Lake’s biggest secret: It is even more beautiful and intoxicating in the winter than in the summer. And it’s a lot less complicated — not to mention less crowded.