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Hiking in Glenwood Springs
One of the best ways to experience Glenwood Springs is on foot in the company of friends and family. Explore our natural wonders, delve into our history and get a peek at our wildlife close up. Whether you prefer a short hike in town, a destination picnic spot by the river or an all-day expedition in an alpine aspen grove, Glenwood’s walking trails offer something special for every age and ability.
Hanging Lake – The Gem of Glenwood Canyon
There’s a good reason this is one of the most popular hikes in the state of Colorado. Geologically speaking there are few places in the world that can compare to this marvel of Mother Nature. Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done throughout the history of the lake. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community. Because of these qualities Hanging Lake was designated a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2011.
While Hanging Lake may be a geologic wonder, its popularity with Colorado travelers has more to do with its awe-inspiring beauty. Suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon’s cliffs, the clear turquoise lake and the waterfall that spills into it are a breathtaking sight after the uphill climb. The stocked lake is teeming with native trout, but don’t think about bringing fishing gear or even your dog, both are strictly prohibited on this hike. Instead, bring your camera to capture memories of this photogenic site.
The Hanging Lake trailhead is located approximately 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs along Interstate-70 in Glenwood Canyon. The trail follows Dead Horse Creek, with foot bridges spanning the creek along the way. If the trail seems a little rigorous, hikers can take a break at one of many convenient rest spots. Near the top, the trail becomes rocky and steep, but handrails help guide visitors to the boardwalk that frames a portion of the lake. Since you made the trek to Hanging Lake, be sure to follow the signs the short distance to Spouting Rock, where icy water from snowmelt high atop the Flat Tops barrels through a narrow hole in the limestone rock, spraying hikers with an invigorating mist of cold water.
Though the trail is only a little over a mile long, it is steep and rocky in places. Hikers are advised to bring adequate hydration and wear sturdy shoes. Because the trail is so popular, parking can be a challenge during the peak summer weekends.
More Trails to Explore
Grizzly Creek Trail – Named in 1881 by the man who killed the largest grizzly bear in Colorado, Grizzly Creek Trail is still full of wildlife, though these days it’s mostly songbirds, butterflies, mule deer and squirrels. With plenty of places to dip toes in the icy mountain stream, this shady hike is ideal for a picnic on summer’s hottest days. To reach the trail, head east on Interstate-70 through Glenwood Canyon to the Grizzly Creek Rest Area and park in the upper lot where the trail begins.
Horseshoe Bend – Park near the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves or the east end of Glenwood Hot Springs, then stroll along the inaugural section of the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path. Though it borders Interstate-70 for the first 1.5 miles, it is one of the best spots to view the resident herd of Colorado bighorn sheep, which like to scamper on the rocky hillside near the pedestrian and bike overpass. After you cross Interstate-70 via the bridge, you’ll descend into a quiet nook known as Horseshoe Bend. Bring an afternoon or evening picnic, enjoy soaring canyon views and watch as river rafters and freight and passenger trains roll by.
No Name Trail – Also known as the Jess Weaver Trail, this trail offers hikers up to 12 miles of streamside hiking, with frequent crossings from one bank to the other. To reach the trailhead, at the No Name exit, head north, away from the rest area, and continue for a half-mile until you reach a small parking area. The route can be overgrown with vegetation especially further up the trail, so for longer hikes consider wearing pants and long sleeved shirts.
Jeanne Golay Trail– Named for a former Olympian who makes her home in Glenwood Springs, this trail provides excellent hiking opportunities and heart-stopping views. For a leisurely hike with a steady incline, stay on the road and hike the three miles to the summit of Red Mountain. If you want a little more intensity on a narrow singletrack veer off the road at the open meadow and follow the trail to the left where a narrow dirt trail switchbacks across the mountain. Take breaks at the many overlooks along the way. Far below Glenwood Springs resembles a city in miniature.
Storm King Memorial Trail – July 6, 1994, will forever be a day of indescribable tragedy for the community of Glenwood Springs. This four-mile round trip hiking trail is dedicated to the 14 firefighters who lost their lives while fighting the South Canyon fire and defending the homes and property of people they didn’t know. Interpretive signs along the way explain what happened the day the fire flared out of control, and memorial crosses mark the sites where each firefighter perished.
Atkinson Trail – Opened in 2011, as part of the Glenwood Springs’ river trails master plan, the Atkinson Trail offers 1.5 miles of gentle strolling on a trail that hugs the west bank of the Roaring Fork River from the 27th Street Bridge near Rivers Restaurant to the residential neighborhood of Glenwood Park. This is the ideal spot of an impromptu picnic and riverside splashing.
Doc Holliday Trail – Glenwood Springs’ most famous outlaw rests somewhere in Linwood Cemetery, though no one knows the exact location. Hikers can enjoy the short half-mile hike that begins at the corner of 12th Street and Bennett Avenue. Doc’s marker will be to the left, overlooking Glenwood Springs as you enter the cemetery. Be sure to locate Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan’s gravestone as well and peruse some of the markers of Glenwood Springs’ pioneer residents.
Babbish Gulch – Sun-dappled in summer and fall, stroll through peaceful aspen groves along Sunlight Mountain Resort’s 10-mile Nordic trail called Babbish Gulch. This trail is popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, but during the milder months from May through early October if offers those seeking a longer excursion the opportunity to stretch their legs. Stop at Sunlight Mountain Sports in downtown Glenwood Springs for a detailed trail map.
East Elk Creek/Centennial Trail – A fifteen minute drive east of Glenwood Springs is New Castle where this trail begins. Ten-miles round trip, the trail leads hikers through a steep and narrow canyon that follows Elk Creek. Look for cascading waterfalls and the remains of a historic gold mining camp. To access the trail exit Interstate-70 at New Castle, make a left turn and follow the signs into town. At 7th Street, turn right and follow for approximately 2 miles. Turn right on East Elk Creek Road and follow it to the trailhead.
Hadley Gulch Trail– Close to the Elk Creek Trail, Hadley Gulch is a prime spot for wildlife viewing. The trail is seven miles, one way, through oak brush, pinion and juniper growth. While it starts off moderately, the trail becomes more difficult after the first mile. From New Castle, go north on 7th Street and turn right on Main Elk Creek. Travel north to the base of Clinetop Road. Hadley Gulch Trailhead parking is on the left side of the road. Keep in mind that the first half-mile of the trail goes through private property. Please stay on the trail and observe posted signs.
Wagon Wheel Trail – High up, above Glenwood Canyon on the expansive Flat Tops, you’ll find miles of prime Colorado hiking terrain. Aspen groves, meadows of wildflowers and sussurrating streams are a few of the highlights. If you choose this hike, take a four-wheel drive vehicle to the trailhead. Take Interstate-70 east to Dotsero, follow the signs for Sweetwater/Burns onto the Colorado River Road, turn left onto Coffee Pot Road and follow for 27 miles.
More driving details are available here