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Hike Hanging Lake

Antlers Staff Posted by Antlers Staff in Vail Hikes 1 min read

Posted: June 16, 2016

hike hanging lake

There aren’t many more spectacular outings in Colorado than a hike to Hanging Lake!

The Vail area is home to some of the most spectacular hikes in Colorado and Hanging Lake is arguably at the top of that list based on its popularity. A hike to Hanging Lake is geologically interesting because the lake was formed by travertine depositions. The natural geologic and hydro-logic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. The lake also boasts a thriving hanging garden plant community. Hanging Lake was designated a national natural landmark in 2011.

Heading on I-70 West toward Glenwood Springs you take exit 121 and then loop back around heading east on I-70 to exit 125 where Hanging Lake is located. Rangers now manage the parking lot, which does fill up early. We arrived just after 8 am and were told a 10-30 minute wait depending on when people come down. It was probably closer to 30 minutes but well worth the wait and well managed. There was a line of cars waiting when we left. It is probably better to get there early but if you are lucky you might be able to time it right for a short wait later in the day too.

It is a fairly steep up hill trail, rated as moderately difficult. There is a short walk on the bike path to the trail head and there is plenty of shade once you get on the trail. It is 3.2 miles total with about a 1,000 foot ascension. If you are a first time hiker, or not used to the altitude it may be challenging. As could be guessed by the wait for a parking spot, the trail is heavily trafficked. No solitude here. You’ll want to wear sturdy shoes and bring water, and maybe even a picnic lunch or snacks to enjoy while you take in the views up top. Highly recommend this hike. It is relatively short for a spectacular payoff at the lake.