Colorado Hiking Season: Is Popular Hanging Lake Trail Ready For Hikers?
The Colorado hiking season is here, but is one of the state's most popular hiking trails ready for the tourist season?
Tough Times For Colorado's Hanging Lake
Colorado's breathtaking Hanging Lake and the accompanying trail have been through a lot in recent years. Even before the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire, the ever-growing popularity of Hanging Lake Trail threatened to destroy the scenic trail and forced forest service officials to implement a reservation system and impose strict limitations on the number of daily visitors.
Hanging Lake Trail Suffered Major Damage
Although Hanging Lake lake itself was not damaged in the Grizzly Creek Fire, much of the area above the lake and trail were burned - as well as some of the trail itself. That forced the closure of the trail for several months before reopening last May. The opening was short-lived, however, as subsequent mudslides caused major damage to the trail which required another shutdown in August.
Bridges were completely destroyed or severely damaged and large sections of the trail were blocked by mudslides. The Hanging Lake trail was dubbed "unsafe and impassable" and was closed "for the foreseeable future." For a short time, the crystal clear and colorful lake was turned to chocolaty brown.
Hanging Lake Status Remains the Same
Unfortunately, the status of the Hanging Lake Trail remains the same - closed for the foreseeable future and there is no word from the forest service on when the trail might reopen. Initially, officials indicated the closure would be at least through the 2021 season and "likely beyond." Well, it's now the 2022 season and the trail is still closed and it's anybody's guess as to when the trail will open.
What we do know is that whenever the Hanging Lake trail reopens to visitors, you'll need to make advance reservations and buy a permit. Until then, tourists and home-grown hikers will have to look to some of the other great Colorado hiking options to get in touch with nature.
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