While planning our family vacation to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico I was haunted by images of Hanging Lake on Pinterest. OH PINTEREST, it gets me everytime! The beauty in the images made Hanging Lake quickly creep up to the top of my must see list.
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The four of us piled into the car after breakfast one morning and made our way to Hanging Lake. My excitement grew as we got closer but we were greeted with a LOT FULL sign………….LOT FULL AT 9:30am on a Friday morning!!!!!!!!!! Can you see my crying face!!??
Here’s the thing, Hanging Lake became an extremely popular destination once it was named a National Natural Landmark in 2011. I was so disappointed that the lot was full….I cried……but don’t tell anyone!! We asked the ranger what time would be best to come back the following morning which just so happened to be a Saturday. Her answer was “Oh on a Saturday morning? You need to be here by 6am!” AHHHHH. Well I was determined to go. The following morning we woke up at 5am and we were at the lot right on time! When we arrived only three other cars were in the lot! I could barely contain my excitement.
We made our way down the bike path that leads to the start of the trail. I had read that the trail was difficult, but I started to get nervous when reading all the signs that were posted along the way actually stating it in real life. YIKES! What did we get ourselves into?
We started up the trail and the first part was uneventful, besides the straight hike up a canyon. Once we got going the views were amazing. I was so focused on the final goal seeing Hanging Lake itself, I almost missed all the beauty on my way up. Don’t we do that in life? We all have goals, big or small and we are all trying to get to the final place. While we are trying to work our way there we often miss the beauty and joy of the journey!
The water that flows down the canyon and the beauty of the trees and moss is a great sight in and of itself. The hike is very difficult. The altitude plays a large role and the steep rocky climb doesn’t help. The four mile hike we did the day before at Grizzly Creek was a walk in the park compared to Hanging Lake. I will say though that it is not impossible. We did it with a 6 and 9 year old. We saw all types of various fitness levels hiking it. You just have to be patient and take your time. Be prepared to take breaks and plan most of the day to complete it if you don’t normally hike. It took us two hours and forty five minutes to complete the hike up and down.
When we made it to the top I was awe struck. I couldn’t believe my eyes, the beauty was surreal. It made me wonder how many hidden gems are there in this world that are waiting to be discovered.
There is a small trail off to the side of Hanging Lake that leads to Spouting Rock. It about 200 yards up and again don’t miss it! It’s 3 giant waterfalls that you can walk under! The kids LOVED it.
On our way back down we stopped a few times to chat with other hikers who were just getting started. When we were hiking up we only saw two yes two other hikers. When we got to the top there was maybe 6 other people. By the time we left and got about 1/2 way down the trail, it was packed. We had to keep stopping to let people go by! We were so blessed to have been able to pretty much be alone in the silence of nature and gaze on Hanging Lake!
When we got back to the car there was a line of cars waiting to get in the lot. Once the waiting line is full of cars they close the lot. If you are stuck in the waiting line you have to wait for someone to leave before they will let you in. You could be waiting awhile just to park! Again, plan most of your day around Hanging Lake.
Here is my Hiking Hanging Lake Quick Tip Guide…………
Have you been to Hanging Lake? What were your thoughts or tips? Please share them with me and other readers below!!
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