I’d wanted to hike to Hanging Lake since learning it existed sometime after moving out to Colorado. Time was getting short for opportunities to hike in the Colorado Rockies (we already knew we were moving to Oregon the following spring), so when my adventurous friends and I decided we’d do my bachelorette party in Glenwood Springs we jumped at the chance to do this hike.
Or at least, I jumped at the chance and through either mutual excitement or a general effort to be agreeable, we decided to give it a shot. Parking is a notorious issue here, so if that didn’t pan out… what? We’d go start the party early. Win win!
And guess what… plenty of parking for us! We’d all piled into one car to maximize our chances, so we unpiled into the quickly filling lot and headed out.
Though the sun was already well up into the sky on this late July morning, the light was soft and dramatic as it spilled into the canyon.
One of the things I liked the most about this hike was that even though it wasn’t a loop (you had to take the same path to get both in and back out), the terrain felt pretty varied. There were giant boulders, lots of waterfalls, and constantly changing shadows.
I always seems to fall to the back of any hiking group – luckily that means I can usually catch some photos of the group ahead 🙂 On the left are my two sister-in-laws, and on the right are two of good friends + bridesmaids.
I didn’t get too many photos of the path itself, but let’s just say it was pretty steep in a lot of places. At a few points they even added steps and railings, if that offers any indication (you just don’t see those much unless a trail is awfully steep/a major erosion risk).
If you’re someone who can stop on a small platform built into a wall of rock to check out the views, this is what you’d see partway up the last big climb:
A little further up, we turned the corner and there it was.
This lake has become so iconic (at least in Colorado), that it’s easy to feel you’ve seen it before ever going. But as best as I tried to capture it in photos, it was so much prettier in person.
The deck wraps a good ways around the lake, so you can take in a broad view without messing up this fragile ecosystem by going off trail.
Thanks to the elusive idiots who strive to ruin all things beautiful, there are often rumors of this trail being shut down for good. In fact, the trail was shut down for part of May this year.
Luckily for us, the trail and lake area weren’t too crowded when we got there – though I bet later in the day it gets pretty nuts. We even had space to get a group photo and some jumping pictures.
A little way back on the trail, you can also take a side-trail to Sprouting Rock. Which of course we had to do. A short walk along this trail brought us to a waterfall.
I think the scale of that photo looks a little off, though. See that little ledge towards the bottom of the waterfall, just behind it? The path leads right there, and you can stand under that ledge.
Deeper under the ledge, there were small caverns eroded into the ledge. I wonder what you’d find in that puddled water if you looked under a microscope.
This is probably the end of the trail, but just on the other side there’s a rock with a little tunnel that’s pretty tempting.
The other side of this tunnel put us out on a rocky hill looking back on the waterfall. I think this would probably be the best photo op around there (assuming there weren’t a bunch of people under the waterfall 🙂 ).
If you’re wondering, yes I did wear that hat the whole time. The veil was like some crazy ponytail in the smallest breeze, but it was kind of a nice sunshade. The sunglasses weren’t quite as practical since they weren’t so great for, you know… seeing things.
Have any of you had a place like this that you’ve always meant to go to, but somehow never seem to get around to? Or been to an unconventional bachelorette party? I’ve often seen bachelorette parties on hiking trails, but they usually looked so amazingly miserable that I surprised myself wanting to include this as part of my own 🙂
Feel free to share your stories in the comments below!