GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Work on the popular Hanging Lake Trail has been extended by two weeks past the original target completion date.
According to a Forest Service news release, the trail will be closed until Monday, Aug. 16.
Work started on May 3 and had Aug. 1 as the original completion date.
One of the main reasons for the delay is that construction of structures and a retaining wall intended to prevent debris from sliding into Hanging Lake is taking longer than expected to complete.
Work is expected to run beyond the Aug. 16 opening of the trail.
"We know there are a great number of people anxiously waiting for the completion of this project," said District Ranger Dave Neely. "We greatly appreciate the public's patience with this project so far, and hope that folks will bear with us for a little while longer."
Neely said that some work will continue at the lake after the trail is reopened.
"Even after we reopen the trail, work will continue on the rock screens, resulting in some noise as the contractor drills holes for the required anchor bolts," he said.
The trail will have a second closure to allow volunteer crews to complete several reconstruction projects on the lower sections of the trail. The second closure dates are set for the weekend of Sept. 17 to 19.
Much of the new boardwalk and observation platforms around the edge of the lake have been completed, the news release said. Replacement of the hand railing approaching the boardwalk, construction of a rock retaining wall and benches and the restoration of the seating area at the east end of the boardwalk, that had become covered with rock from the debris flow, still need to be completed.
There will also be periodic closures of the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path to allow helicopter airlifts of supplies to the project site at Hanging Lake. Two or three more airlifts are expected before the project is finished, the news release said.
Ed Carlson, project manager for the Forest Service said, "We make every effort to minimize the disruption of traffic on the bike path, but out of concern for public safety, must close the bike path anytime the helicopter is working directly over the path and parking area, especially when they are flying sling loads in or out."
"While I understand the inconvenience this project may have caused, I hope everyone will find the wait worthwhile," Neely said.
It's been 18 years since the existing boardwalk was built. In a previous news story, Pat Thrasher, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest, said an estimated 1 million hikers have hiked the trail and used the boardwalk since it was installed in 1992. That's approximately 80,000 a year that make their way up the steep and picturesque 1.5-mile trail. Hanging Lake draws hikers year round, but the summer months are the most popular time for the trail.