Garfield County Outdoors connects students with nature through Hanging Lake hike

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon is clearing up and returning to its usual emerald green color after recent mudslides clouded the water in late July and early August 2021. The 1.2-mile-long trail up to the lake is severely damaged from the slides and will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
White River National Forest/Courtesy

The Garfield 16 and Garfield Re-2 school districts recently coordinated a hike to Hanging Lake, offering students an enriching experience and fostering a deeper connection with local outdoor spaces, according to a Garfield County Outdoors news release.

Garfield 16 School District Outdoor Education Coordinator Ari Philipson emphasized the significance of the outdoor ventures.

“It’s amazing to be able to provide access to students to see and learn of this beautiful place,” Philipson said in the release. “The experience of hiking the difficult trail with their peers and that accomplishment, I hope brings a sense of community and school engagement that they might not otherwise get.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Rifle Middle School Nancy Hauer reflected on the students’ journey.

“This year, a few of our kids considered turning back before reaching the top,” Hauer said. The climb is challenging for many, yet all of our kids persevered and reached the lake and the falls above and felt gratification, pride and achievement that they did it. Knowing they can accomplish a physical challenge, and seeing their peers succeed as well, is extremely rewarding.”

Echoing the appreciation, seventh grade Riverside Middle School teacher Bryan Gall recognized the program’s transformative power.

“Garfield County Outdoors and Hanging Lake have provided an amazing opportunity for local kids to visit one of the greatest local outdoor resources,” Gall said in the release. “Because of this, kids can enjoy a visit to the world-class destination of Hanging Lake who might not otherwise get the chance.”

Under the program, 363 students and 38 adults successfully completed the hike. The Hanging Lake adventure was a prime attraction during the Garfield Family Outdoor Days, where families from the Re-2 and Garfield 16 school districts participated. Notably, 76 individuals embarked on the trek against the backdrop of the lunar eclipse on Oct. 14, according to the news release.

There are aspirations to uphold the Hanging Lake tradition and introduce more outdoor events tailored to different grade levels in the future. The aim is to continuously fortify students’ ties to local outdoor areas throughout their academic journey.

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