Hanging Lake, Hanging Lake Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Hanging Lake - 2.4 miles

Hanging Lake Trailhead

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake

Round-Trip Length: 2.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 6,122' - 7,290' (7,323' max elevation at Spouting Rock)
Elevation Change: +1,168' net elevation gain to Hanging Lake
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Hanging Lake - 2.4 Miles Round-Trip

Hanging Lake fills a 1.5-acre shelf suspended from the walls of Deadhorse Canyon, a side canyon north of Glenwood Canyon and tributary of the Colorado River. The lake is fed by natural springs and the arms of Bridal Veil Falls.

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This National Natural Landmark was formed by a geologic fault that caused the lakebed to drop away from the valley floor above. Layers of travertine, accumulating over millennia from dissolved limestone, comprise the lake edge and give the water its turquois color.

The lake is the centerpiece of a unique ecosystem that supports equally rare plants and hanging gardens. A strenuous 1.2 mile, 1168’ climb follows Deadhorse Creek under a shady canopy to the lake.

Hanging Lake is accessed from Exit 125 on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon (see important directions and parking information below). The Hanging Lake Trailhead is located about .4 miles from the parking lot along the Glen Canyon Recreation Path and Colorado River. You must walk/bike the path to reach the trailhead from the parking area:

The trail climbs fast on a variously steep and rocky path beside Deadhorse Creek all the way to the lake. The cascading creek is a compelling destination in itself, shaded by oak, cottonwood and pine. Deciduous vegetation, ferns and thimbleberries line this kinetic corridor.

The grade eases through .75 miles before a steep push up fence-guarded stone steps leading to boardwalks around Hanging Lake (1.2 miles : 7,323’).

Upon reaching the lake, a short spur veers left and above Bridal Veil Falls to Spouting Rock, where water has carved its way through narrow chutes in the limestone wall and joins a powerful waterfall. Visitors have more freedom to explore this area and pass under the falls.

Hanging Lake is a rare and fragile ecosystem - rules and regulations are strictly enforced:

  • It’s illegal to swim, wade or fish in the lake.
  • Dogs are not permitted on the Hanging Lake Trail.
  • Remain on designated trails and boardwalks at all times.
  • Small amounts of oil from human skin can dissolve travertine by altering its pH, and the rock itself can easily crack under the weight of footsteps.
  • Plants in and around the lake are equally sensitive, and should not be stepped upon or handled.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 35.556 W107 11.061 — 0.0 miles : Hanging Lake Trailhead
  • N39 35.771 W107 11.243 — .5 miles : Steep climb beside creek
  • N39 35.883 W107 11.417 — .75 miles : Grade briefly relaxes
  • N39 36.072 W107 11.512 — 1.2 miles : Hanging Lake

Worth Noting

  • Hanging Lake sees heavy traffic, especially on weekends and throughout the summer. Expect crowds. Parking is ample, however there's no overflow or roadside parking on I-70.
  • Black Swifts inhabit this area. These specialized birds will only build nests beside or behind waterfalls. Avoid disturbing the swifts and nesting areas.
  • Travertine - limestone rocks around the lake can be very sharp and deceptively slippery. Remain on designated trails to avoid injury.
  • There's no fee to access Hanging Lake, however donations can be made in the parking area.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Camping is not permitted at Hanging Lake, or anywhere along the trail. See trailhead signs that depict adjacent National Forest Lands where dispersed camping is permitted.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is strictly prohibited at Hanging Lake.

Rules and Regulations

  • It’s illegal to swim, wade or fish in the lake, or along Deadhorse Canyon Creek.
  • Dogs are not permitted on the Hanging Lake Trail.
  • Remain on designated trails and boardwalks at all times.

Directions to Trailhead

The Hanging Lake Trailhead is located off of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. Exits 121 and 125 offer access, depending on which direction you're coming from. Depending on your travel plans, it's likely that you'll have to backtrack on I-70 to regain your desired heading.

On-off ramps come quickly in the canyon. Anticipate your exit, and approach them slowly. If missed, it can take some time to re-route as there are few turnaround options in the canyon.

It's advisable to park at other rest areas in Glenwood Canyon such as No Name or Bair Ranch and walk/ride the Recreation Path to the trailhead. These are less congested options with more direct on-off I-70 access.

Coming from points east (heading west on I-70):

Take Exit 121 for Hanging Lakes. Take the exit ramp slowly and anticipate a quick turn back around on I-70 East to Exit 125. Follow Exit 125 to the parking area.

Coming from points west (heading east on I-70):

Take exit 125 for Hanging Lakes.

Contact Information

Eagle Ranger District
125 West 5th Street
Eagle, CO 81631



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