Whenever I’m on vacation, priority numero uno for me is finding a good adventure or hike. Hanging Lake, in Colorado did not disappoint.
With family and good friends in Denver, I make it out to Colorado fairly frequently. This summer, I was lucky enough to go for two full weeks. One week I spent with my mom at our family’s condo in this tiny town called Fraser.
The night before we planned to hit Rocky Mountain National Park for the 10,000th time (it’s still awesome – highly recommend it), I saw a picture on Instagram of this picturesque lake. After a bit of searching I discovered it is a short drive and a moderate-rated three miles. Sounded doable for us!
Hanging Lake is about a 3-hour drive from Denver and you’ll pass through other cool spots like Idaho Springs and Vail. Plus, closer to the lake you’ll drive through canyons which is an experience of it’s own.
While the hike is rated as moderate, I think it totally depends on your fitness level. The trail is straight uphill on the way out and straight downhill on the way back. Obviously, the hike up was challenging, but I didn’t think it was anything crazy. The hike back, though, would be really difficult for anyone with weak ankles or knees – I’d recommend trekking poles if you’re not 100% steady.
Expect lots of rock scrambles, switch-backs, and some fancy foot work on steep stairs toward the top. Once you get to the lake, there’s a walk way around the front with benches to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch. NOTE: This is not a swimming lake.
Spouting Rock at Hanging Lake
Before heading back down trail though, don’t miss Spouting Rock Falls which is only another quarter-mile or so. The trail is marked, but if you get confused, it’s to the left side of the lake. You’ll be tired after the hike up, but it’s a really cool water fixture and is barely a 10-minute detour.
Some other logistical notes – parking is limited and fills up fast – so, go early to get in. There are full restrooms and access to water at the start of the trail, but not along the way. I took my CamelBak because I do drink a lot of water, but you can get away with a bottle. And I wore hiking boots but it’s doable in tennis shoes.
So, What’s Next?
So now the question is, what hike should I do next time I’m in Denver?