A Hike to Hanging Lake Waterfalls

Why you should hike to Hanging Lake! In the Glenwood Canyon, Colorado Waterfalls galore and lush scenery will be worth the 1000 foot climb.

A jewel of a lake lies right outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It’s easy to miss while driving down I-70, east or west. Hanging Lake quite literally hangs from above. 1200 feet in elevation, to be exact. The waterfalls are worth every step.

When my husband, Danny, and I arrived at the parking lot, a park ranger stood in front of the Lot Closed sign. We knew better from years of parking to ski. Someone always leaves. Just as we made it to the front of the line, someone drove out. I have amazing parking karma.

Dogs were not allowed on the hike but a light, cool breeze funneled through the canyon. Danny cracked the windows for our Bichon, Roxy.

It was only a 1.4-mile hike so I expected to be back within forty-five minutes. No one told us the hike was straight up.

It took a while to walk through the lot and paved sidewalk along the river to the trailhead. A train rolled by on the opposite side. It looked like something out of a movie.

Hiking Hanging Lake, A biker on the Hanging Lake path

When we made it to the trailhead, we joined many young families walking up the steps. It started as a steady climb, but I figured it was right up ahead.

Trail to Hanging Lake

After winding along a small stream for what seemed like ever, I wondered if we’d ever get there.

Soon the sun poured through the canopy overhead. The temperature rose. I wondered how Roxy was doing and picked up the pace.

Old log cabin along trail to Hanging Lake, Colorado

After what seemed like two hours of hiking, a hiker strode down the path. “You’re almost there,” he said.

His words spurred us on. The path narrowed and clung to a headwall. We had to navigate around a tight corner and scramble up the last few steps.

We made it to a place I never dreamed existed. So lush and with water so teal, it was worth the 1200 feet in elevation and moderate hike. The waterfalls were breathtaking.

Hanging Lake waterfalls

Family at Hanging Lake

Waterfalls at Hanging Lake! The 1000 feet in elevation are worth every step.

Click on the Instagram video and turn on the sound. It’s so relaxing.

After taking several photos, we headed back down.

When I noticed hikers struggling, I’d tell them, “You’re almost there. Just a few more minutes!” Danny soon called me The Ambassador. It was a good feeling to bring smiles to their faces. Once I hit the twenty-minute mark going down, I stopped. It would take them twice as long.

Worried a ranger would smash a window for Roxy, I sprinted from the trailhead (which soon became a jog) back to the car.

I caught my breath while Roxy lounged in the back seat. Nothing to worry about. Even in the intense Colorado sun, it was still May and Danny had generously cracked the windows.

I’m so glad we hiked it!

Danny and Susie at Hanging Lake

Do you like to hike? What have been your favorites? Have you been to Hanging Lake?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride.

Related posts:

Trail guide for Hanging Lake

Bike Hike to Bridal Veil Falls – Photo Essay with Altitude

Backpacking Challenge in the Rockies

Colorado Travel Tips from a Wild Rider

73 thoughts on “A Hike to Hanging Lake Waterfalls

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  1. Wow Susie, looks like an incredible hike! I haven’t done a ton of hiking but my favourite had to being hiking in Lake Louise with a friend of mine. Spectacular views with a very special friend = the perfect mix!

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    1. Danny has hiked there and said it was beautiful! We’ve passed by this one for a long time. I can’t believe we had never done it! It was so spectacular.
      Thanks for stopping by, Lynn! Nice to see you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, we have done the Hanging Lake hike quite a few years ago. I will echo your thoughts that it is well worth the climb! The rocks in that one picture look very familiar. I believe we even have a picture taken on them (with our tongues hanging out). Is that why they call it “hanging” lake?

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  3. Looks looovely Suzie!!

    I’ve never been to this hanging lake, but I’ve been to *a* hanging lake in NZ. That one was gorgeous too! 🙂

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  4. Beautiful and glad Roxy was chilling for you while you hiked 🙂 I have hiked some beautiful trails when I was living out west. Here in Florida hiking is a little different and a lot flatter and offers plenty of places to explore and adventure. Happy Day – Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks, Renee!
      Yes, it’s quite an adventure in the Rockies. But anytime you get outside and open yourself to discovery, it’s such a treat! I was so relieved she was okay. I rarely leave her in the car!

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  5. I do like to hike, though the ones that go straight up aren’t fun for me. I also have a weird sensibility about hiking. Though my husband loves to get to the end of a trail no matter what it takes, I’m not made of that stuff. If I’ve been hiking for a while, feel tired or feel I’ve had enough, I have no problem turning around and going back, even if we haven’t made it to the big taaa-daaah! Call me crazy. 🙂

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      1. I’m sure we would!
        But we’ve been to NYC three times in twelve months with another trip scheduled for September, so Colorado is going to have to wait, sadly..

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  6. I don’t know Susie, Colorado scares me, I mean it’s wildish, and didn’t they just legalize synchronized water ballet, lackadaisical meandering and argyle socks? Or was Hemp?

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  7. Fabulous lake and waterfalls (Thanks for the sounds – really refreshing)
    We’ve driven by so many times, too. Plan to stop the next time. (So far we have good parking Karma in the Mts…flatlands, not so much HAHA)
    Next trip we’ll have Molly Malamute along, so will have to locate a good secure stay and play or make a lists of hikes with pups (National forest lands I heard were OK with that?)
    Lover your hike tales.Stay cool – what a summer

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  8. Since moving to Tucson in 2010 I have become an avid hiker. Surrounded by four mountain ranges, we have many trails at different elevations making hiking a pleasant experience any time of the year — too hot in the desert, you start selecting trails in the mountains.

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    1. Tucson is on my bucket list, Kenne! It sounds amazing. I really enjoy your photos.
      I love that about Colorado too. When it’s super hot in Boulder, we escape to the mountains!

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  9. So absolutely beautiful! Hanging Lake has been on my bucket list for years and thanks for mentioning no dogs because I may have been in a pickle had I brought along my pup! Really love the capture of the mother and child, so many feelings emitted! And I do love and enjoy hiking very much so! Just took another first timer up a summit yesterday. One of my favorite things to do!

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  10. Those pics are amazing! They have a lot of good trails over here, but that Colorado … Maaaaaan looks nice! And the weather looks cool. We like heading out here in the early mornings 🙂 I know you probably hit a trail while you were out here.

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    1. Thanks so much, Guat!
      Yes, there are so many hikes nearby and the temperatures have soared. That’s so great that you’re making an early morning effort! We hiked in Runyun Canyon Park, but it was a scorcher!
      One of these days, you’ll have to come to Colorado!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a rewarding hike! The scenery is lovely and would keep me going. I love to hike in Yosemite when we can, but we take easy trails that some wouldn’t probably consider much of a hike. If I’m with someone experienced and not concerned that I’ll get lost, I’m game for more strenuous hikes. 🙂

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    1. This hike surprised me since very young families hiked it. I thought it was super risky, but some Dads walked with little ones on their shoulders. Yikes! One trip and oopsy….
      Thanks, Debra!

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  12. Terrific post and great photos…my wife and I love to take long walks – hikes if we can get away for them – and this is the perfect place….so serene and beautiful!

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  13. Yes, a beautiful hike we’d taken years ago–so nice to see the it looks pretty much the same (I don’t remember moss/grass on the downed-timber reaching out into the “lake”–did you walk out on it?)! When we did it, it was back-to-back people hiking up the trail. Was so weird! Never been on a trail with that many people also on it!

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    1. Not many people that day even though it was Memorial Day weekend. They restrict people from stepping on the log or into the water to preserve them. If you would have splashed, you would’ve had to dash!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve learned to never trust anyone who says “you’re almost there.” Hiking with some friends to a hut in the White Mountains, we kept hiking up and then down and then up again. Gets a bit tiring after a few hills. We met a group of hikers coming down and one of the guys said, “You’re almost there.” Yeah. Two hours later. The killer was that his telling us we were almost there really fueled us for a bit and we were almost running on the trail but then we were so let down after we realized he was playing a joke on us.

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    1. Oh, that’s cruel! We had that happen on a trail near Silverthorne. We kept asking hikers if we were getting close to the waterfall and they would answer it was right up ahead. Same thing. Two hours later!!
      Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer!

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    1. Thanks, Arv! It was so worth it. We found another hike yesterday so close to our place in Breckenridge, I can’t believe we didn’t know about it! You never know what’s tucked away around the corner.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Susie! I keep finding new ones in our backyard. I did a ridge walk around ten days ago which I have been thinking for last few years. it was untouched by human footprint and amazing too!

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  15. Wow, I would hike for that waterfall, the water was really teal, and I love how you’v captured the woman in red, and shiny long hair, playing with her kid. So pictuture-perfect. I’ve actually never considered myself a hiking person, but the times I’ve done it I actually really enjoyed it. I’m even considering buying hiking-shoes!

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