I hiked to Hanging Lake and let me tell you, it’s even more beautiful than the pictures!
Getting there: the drive to the lake is GORGEOUS. Hanging Lake is almost all the way to Aspen so you get to see some amazing scenery just on the drive there. The trail starts right near the town of Glenwood Springs, CO, and keep in mind that the parking situation is AWFUL. We left Denver at 7 AM, arrived at Hanging Lake at 10 AM, and were told we would have to turn around because the lot was full. We ended up making our way into the park eventually but to save yourself the stress I would recommend camping/lodging in Glenwood the night before. That way you can get an early start and arrive before the crowds.
The Good Stuff: The hike itself is fairly tough. It’s short, but very steep. The trail begins on a large, flowing riverbank, but soon falls back into the trees. On your way up, you’ll cross a couple of streams that are most likely running from the lake. The hike is strenuous but keep going, the lake is worth it!
Towards the end of the hike you’ll reach a set of stairs, this is how you’ll know you’re close! Take some time to enjoy the scenery here; if you stop halfway up the stairs you’ll find yourself overlooking a large canyon. The views are amazing.
Soon thereafter you will reach Hanging Lake! You have the option to continue on a short distance to a huge waterfall, I would highly recommend this! It’s a very quick addition to the hike and a great place to cool off before you begin the descent back down.
Note: If you decide to do the hike in the winter, know that it’s a toughie. Bring Yak Traks or snow shoes and be prepared for a lot of ice.