GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There isn’t much left of the Hanging Lake Trail. White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams delivered the sad news this morning.
Fitzwilliams says the for the foreseeable future that likely means the public won’t have access to Hanging Lake until 2023. He says the mudslide and debris flow of July 29th destroyed one of the seven bridges on the trail and damaged others. Piles of dead, ashen trees, rocks and mud have been left behind on most of the trail. Fitzwilliams says the good news is, Hanging Lake, once murky and cloudy, is slowly returning to it’s pristine state.
According to Fitzwilliams, “the lake itself and the boardwalk around the lake is in great shape. The lake it clearing up from it’s chocolate milk color from a couple of weeks ago…”
Losing access to one of Colorado’s most popular tourist destinations is a big blow to the local economy. Ken Murphy owns and operates the Glenwood Adventure Company providing shuttle service to visitors anxious to make the one mile climb to see the lake. He says the day of the big deluge, they had over 15 thousand reservations. That’s a lot of refunds for his overwhelmed staff.
“We are giving people other options… just because Hanging Lake is closed doesn’t mean that there is no reason to come to the area, there are plenty of things to do.”
Murphy says his company had the space to fill another 20 thousand reservations for Hanging Lake. Officials say the cost to rebuild the Hanging Lake Trail will be significant. Some people may choose to donate their refund to the trail restoration project. As for the canyon itself, C-DOT officials warn with more rain in the forecast for the next few days, another closure is not out of the question.