Hanging Lake reservations reopen Monday, first hikes June 25
Get your hiking boots ready, as a trail to Hanging Lake is set to reopen much sooner than expected after last summer’s devastating floods and debris flows in Glenwood Canyon.
Online reservations should open at VisitGlenwood.com at 10 a.m. on Monday, and the first day available to hike the trail under the permit reservation system is June 25.
The announcement was made during a Wednesday morning press conference at the Hanging Lake Rest Area hosted by White River National Forest, the National Forest Foundation, the City of Glenwood Springs and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. .
“It’s a lot sooner than we thought we could open this trail, thanks to the great work of the construction team and the Forest Service,” said Lisa Langer, director of tourism for Visit Glenwood.
“Being able to open reservations and get people walking as early as June 25 is truly remarkable, considering what we had to deal with last summer with the debris flows,” she said.
Access to Hanging Lake has been closed since late July 2021, when record rainfall triggered massive flooding and debris flows that severely damaged Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, closing it for three weeks and also washing away parts of the Hanging Lake trail. The unique travertine lake itself was muddy for a while, but by fall it was back to its natural state.
The Forest Service has contracted with Summit to Sea trail builders, who began work in late April to repair and replace two bridges that were washed away and to rebuild a temporary, primitive trail approximately 1.2 miles to the Hanging Lake,” said Leanne Veldhuis, Holy Cross District Eagle Ranger for the WRNF.
Crews made rapid progress putting Bridge One back in place before the spring runoff peaked and removing the old Bridge Two, which had been completely washed downstream into Deadhorse Creek. They are now building a new bridge there, Veldhuis said.
The rest of the five bridges were not severely damaged, but crews are working to construct a primitive pathway through some of the debris flow areas to provide pedestrian access to the lake, she said.
“We’ve been really impressed with the work that’s been done so far,” she said.
Long-term, the National Forest Foundation plans to invest more than $3 million over the next three years to build a new, more resilient permanent trail with additional upgrades, interpretive signage, and restoration of the ecology along along the trail that was damaged by mudslides and the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire, said Jamie Werner, stewardship coordinator between the WRNF and the National Forest Foundation.
Design work for this larger project is due to begin later this summer, she said.
“The goal of the temporary trail works is to open the trail to safe public access,” Werner said. “We will continue to monitor the weather throughout the summer and potentially cause closures in the event of hazardous weather events.
“The long term plan for this permanent trail is to look at it from a holistic perspective…the alignment, the materials, the user experience…all of those things to make this trail as strong, resilient and sustainable as possible,” she said. .
The larger project includes funding from a $2.28 million Great Outdoors Colorado Community Impact Grant that was awarded last year, as well as the City of Glenwood Springs, Forest Service, Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance and Hanging Lake visitors who donated their canceled permit reservation fees from last summer to the rebuilding effort, Werner said.
Glenwood Springs Mayor Pro-Tem Charlie Willman also spoke during the opening announcement on Wednesday.
“We have heard clearly over the past year how important Hanging Lake is to Colorado, and we know how important it is to our local community, its character and its economic vibrancy,” Willman said. “We are very grateful to those who made this possible, and it will be exciting to make it available this summer much sooner than expected.”
Reservations for a hike at Hanging Lake are $12 per person, except for small children who may be carried the entire way. A permit includes parking at the rest area.
There is a limit of 615 visitors per day under the Forest Service management plan which was implemented in 2019. Until then, the area hosted up to 1,800 hikers on peak summer days, a Langer said, leading to overcrowding at the parking lot. and illegal parking along the Interstate 70 on- and off-ramps and leading to the development of the management plan.
When implementing the new reservation system, one of the requirements was that hikers had to use a shuttle service between Glenwood Springs and the Hanging Lake trailhead.
The shuttle, operated under contract by H2O Ventures of Glenwood Springs, which also handles reservations, was in place in 2019. It has since been suspended, first due to pandemic restrictions in 2020, and since the Grizzly Creek fire due to the potential for evacuations during flooding over the fire burn scar.
The shuttle will remain suspended this year as trail managers would prefer people to have quick access to their personal vehicles in the event of a flash flood alert or warning and the possibility of an evacuation order during the rains of monsoon this summer.
This story is from PostIndependent.com.