Public comments are being sought for post-flood Hanging Lake Trail improvements |

Public comments are being sought for post-flood Hanging Lake Trail improvements

Combination of improvements, restoration intended to help ensure trail sustainability

Summit to Sea trail builders work on reconstructing bridge number two on the Hanging Lake Trail in April 2022. The bridge was completely destroyed and washed away during the summer 2021 flooding in Glenwood Canyon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The White River National Forest is seeking comments on its proposal to redesign and reconstruct sections of the Hanging Lake Trail following the damage caused to the trail by massive flooding in summer 2021.

The trail and associated bridges suffered significant damage when mud and debris flows were triggered by heavy rains in Glenwood Canyon over the areas that were burned during the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire. While a temporary trail was opened in June 2022, more extensive repairs are still needed for long-term sustainability, the Forest Service said in a Wednesday news release.

A combination of trail improvements and ecological restoration are being proposed to make the 1.2-mile Hanging Lake Trail more sustainable, safe and resilient, the release said. The project would be funded through Great Outdoors Colorado, the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Proposed work includes reengineering six of the trail’s seven bridges to better accommodate high water and debris flows. Two of the bridges would also be slightly relocated to crossing locations that provide better stream clearance, according to the proposal.

A new boardwalk, similar to the one at Hanging Lake, is also proposed at nearby Spouting Rock to reduce erosion and other impacts by guiding visitors on a defined pathway looping around the falls.  

Minor regrading and rock work, flood debris removal and native seeding and planting would occur by hand along the trail to stabilize stream banks and reduce erosion.

At the trailhead in Glenwood Canyon, remaining debris would be removed and the stream channel reconstructed to protect the adjacent paved recreation path, restrooms and trailhead facilities. An accessible plaza with seating and shade would also be constructed in that area.

In addition, the historic Civilian Conservation Corps shelter along the trail would be stabilized in consultation with the Colorado Historic Preservation Office to ensure the longevity of the structure.

“This work would not be possible without the close support from the many partners who help us with Hanging Lake, especially Great Outdoors Colorado, the National Forest Foundation, city of Glenwood Springs and Colorado Department of Transportation,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in the release. “These repairs and improvements will ensure that we continue to provide a world-class visitor experience at this iconic Colorado location for decades to come.”

Work is expected to begin in September 2023 and continue through fall 2024. Trail closures could be necessary as work progresses, the release states.    

Additional details about the proposal and information about how to comment can be found at Comments will be most helpful if received by Feb. 25, the release states.

In the meantime, year-round reservations are still required to visit Hanging Lake and are available through Reservations for May 1 through June 30 are to be made available beginning at 10 a.m. Feb. 15. Reservations for July 1 through Sept. 4 open at 10 a.m. March 15.

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