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Summer hiking in Colorado

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People gather as water spills over Hanging Lake. Photo from Chris Lujan
Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock is one of many beautiful hiking trails in Colorado. They are both located on the same trail about four hours northwest of Pueblo.

To get to the trailhead take US-50 West to Canon City from their take CO-9 North to I-70 West.
The trailhead is somewhat difficult to find because it is tucked away in the Glenwood Canyon. If you are traveling on I-70 west, you actually will pass it after you go through the Hanging Lake Tunnel, there is NO ACCESS from I-70 West, take the next exit after the tunnel Exit 121. That exit will take you down to I-70 East along the Colorado River.

Once on I-70 east you will see several signs indicating the exit for Hanging Lake. Take the exit right before the Hanging Lake Tunnel. The exit will take you to the parking area before the trailhead. The parking lot is small but also serves as a rest area with bathrooms and vending machines.

From the parking areas follow the concrete bike path for about a quarter mile to the trailhead. The bike path goes along Glenwood Canyon; Anchor Rock will also be visible from the path, which leads to the start of the hike which is marked with a wooden sign and informational park boards at the base.

Now that you’ve reached the trailhead you can begin your hike. The first stretch of the hike goes around the north side of the Glenwood Canyon. This section of the trail is covered with huge boulders that have footsteps carved into the rock slope. The incline is steep in some parts but only goes for about 150 yards.

After the rocky terrain, you than come up on a shady canopy region that brings you back toward the Deadhorse River. The shade as well as the moisture from the stream produces a cool breeze for hikers, as well as cold air from underneath the rocks that flows from the ground. You may see several hikers stopping in front of these rocks that produce an air condition like effect.

While you continue to climb, you will notice that the trail begins to get steeper fairly quick as it turns up towards the canyon. As the trail goes on you will leave the shaded canopy you follow the trail along the canyon wall which is lined with metal railings for stability. This is the steepest part of the climb and definitely the sketchiest because of the terrain.

The rock wall stair case goes up for about 45 feet and then leads you right to the boardwalk. Once on the boardwalk, the path will lead you to two marked signs. The first sign marked Hanging Lake points to the right, and the other sign says up to Spouting Rock. The decision is yours, sit on a bench and check out the lake or stand underneath the falls and get a little wet.

If you choose Hanging Lake you will see this crystal clear oasis, with its beautiful greens and blues make for a picturesque scene at 10,000 feet. You will also notice a fallen tree that floats at the top of the surface of the lake. If you’re brave enough to venture out on the tree it makes for an amazing view of the falls and the lake, it also makes for a great picture.

If you want to go up to Spouting Rock, get ready to get wet. The thunderous sound of the waterfall in the distance will lead you right to it. There is a huge boulder in front of the fall which makes for a great platform to take a photo. You can also go under and around the falls and even soak your feet in a nearby pool.

As you leave Spouting Rock, you can hike a little off the trail on the left side as you’re going down and it will lead you to the Hanging Lake waterfall cliff. This view allows you to stand over the lake and look down as the water flows beside you and off the cliff. It also allows you to see back down into Glenwood Canyon.

After you have soaked in all the views and rested, you can head back down the mountain using the same trail. Remember to be cautious as heading down is often more dangerous than the ascent. Important trail information is as follows. No fishing or swimming is allowed in the lake and no dogs are allowed on the trail either.

Overall the trail is fairly easy to hike. Be sure to bring plenty of water and maybe a small snack for when you reach the top. The trail is a little more than one mile long and rises to 1020 feet. The boardwalk information says to allow for two to three hours for the trip so plan accordingly, be safe and enjoy.