Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake

I’m the planning person. If I want something, I starting to make a plan on how to achieve it. It goes with everything, and it becomes especially true when I’m planning our trips. I will check all resources, read a lot of blogs, and create a timed plan for each of the day of the trip. Then I will create the alternative plan in a case my assumptions will go wrong. I know, I’m crazy.
With Hanging Lake everything went wrong. The day went completely off the rails but somehow ended overall lovely.
Otherworldly Hanging Lake I saw at first on the friend Facebook page. It was a portrait of his family near the lake snap on the phone in the middle of the day by some other visitor. And I immediately started to Google.
When the Colorado+Wyoming plan was only started to shape, there was just one place that is not a national park. And it was Hanging Lake.
Hanging Lake is interested from all perspective. It lay on the fault line and was formed when the valley floor dropped to what is not a shallow bed of the lake. The fantastic emerald-ish colors are the result of the dissolving of carbonate minerals in the water. Even story how it was first found has a romantic charm of the wild west. A man searched for gold in the canyon when found a dead horse at gulch opening. He followed the gulch up to the canyon walls to find the emerald water of the lake hanging on the cliffs.
The place is popular. Extremely popular. It was written everywhere that parking lots fill by 8 am, and then all day it doesn’t become less crowdy even taking into account the long hard uphill hike.
So I planned to be there at 7.30 am. And so we did. Only to find a full, parking and few round cycling cars waiting for the openings. Oh, how sad I was. There was no reason to remain: the sun was high and hot, rangers were losing their tempers with tourists that tried to talk their way into the parking lot. So we turned around.
We returned before sunset. It was quite a surprise for me how empty parking lot was. We had like an hour and something before it gets dark. And I think even if would arrive 30-40 mins earlier we would be able to park easily.
To get to the trailhead, you need to walk along the river in a beautiful canyon. Even this walk is very picturesque.
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

I should say, I wasn’t entirely prepared for the hike. It’s mentioned as moderate, but it’s all the way uphill and elevation change is significant. Though it’s gorgeous. The small waterfalls and rapids add charm and fresh moisture to the air, so it’s a bit easy to hike.
The last section of the trail reminded me of Zion: steep and surrounded with reddish walls of the canyon. When you finish the last switchback and the stairs, and suddenly the lake shows up. It looks like a wonder.
The parallel between the Hanging Lake and Croatian Plitvice Lakes is obvious. Hanging Lake looks like a smaller version of great and famous national park. The trail from there follows the wooden boardwalk that surrounds the lake.
07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
I finish shooting right before the sunset. The haze from the nearest wildfires became pink. We didn’t have lanterns and walked back with the light from the phones which wasn’t easy or comfortable.
07.06. Hanging Lake

07.06. Hanging Lake
07.06. Hanging Lake

What to consider before visiting Hanging Lake

  • The place is extremely popular with a small parking lot. Plan to arrive super early – sunrise or right after sunrise to find parking, or later before the sunset. We were told by rangers that they consider to introduce permits or shuttles.
    If the parking lot is full, the ramp will be closed.
  • The trail is 2.8 miles out and back. It’s marked as moderate but becomes steep in the upper part. If you are afraid of heights, the trail could be scary for you.
  • The trail consists of huge rocks and steps. If you planning in the dark be cautions and bring a good lantern with you
  • It’s prohibited to climb logs or enter the waters. Do not put anything in the water: tripod, walking sticks or your hands
  • Sorry, no dogs
  • Check for the closures on the USDA site
  • If you have time and not completely tired check Spouting Rock that is close to the lake

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