It’s [almost] official – the U.S. Forest Service is set to start limiting the number of people able to visit Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs to 615 people a day year-round. This might still seem like a lot of visitors, but it’s a big drop from the 1,000+ people that might walk the trail during a busy summer day. This limitation is being made to help offset the impact that high traffic has had on the fragile environment.
There will also be a fee-based reservation/permitting system put in use, along with a shuttle service to help manage trail capacity on high-traffic days. The shuttle is said to run from May 1 to October 31. Final details on these aspects of the plan have yet to be decided.
This change comes in the wake of a 23 percent jump in visitor traffic at this Colorado destination between 2016 and 2017, when annual visitation rose from around 150,000 each year to 184,000.
This proposal is still subject to a formal objection process. You can file objections using this link during a 45-day period.
Hanging Lake has been a hot topic among Colorado’s outdoor community in recent years, as reports of irresponsible visitors being unable to follow posted trail rules continue to arise. One instance where this was made quite public occurred when fitness-apparel company Liquido Active ignored posted signs while conducting a commercial shoot.
A popular bucket list destination thanks to its iconic blue water, Hanging Lake has been an easy road trip stop in the past thanks to an official rest stop constructed at the trail head. Also worth mentioning, the increase in popularity of this trail has caused issues with local rescue services, as many visitors underestimate the difficulty of the route, thus resulting in an increased demand for assistance.
There’s nothing wrong with visiting Colorado’s natural destinations, but if you do, ALWAYS FOLLOW ALL POSTED RULES. Use the tips we mention in this trail etiquette piece and always LEAVE NO TRACE. Each day, more beginners are enjoying the outdoors. This means that it’s that much more important to set an example of proper use and to educate newcomers on how to act. Together, we can help preserve natural destinations for future generations.
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