It was so awesome having my parents in Colorado for a few days. They got to see my stomping grounds in Fort Collins and Denver and got to see the campus where I wish I would have spent more time, but I suppose that’s the point of the BRAND program (it’s an outreach program – created to let you “live” in Colorado or Wyoming while traveling to/from clinical sites & taking most classes online).
We went out for excellent dinners, had a great BBQ with Andrew’s family & Dad and I were able to travel to Glenwood Springs for a relaxing night followed by an incredible hike the next morning. I can’t remember the last time I spent that much 1:1 time with my parents… it was great! It’s hard living in Colorado away from my family so having visitors was very welcomed & fun, especially after the stress of the semester.
Hanging Lake Hike: I loved it. I had been wanting to hike Hanging Lake for over three years so when Dad was interested as well I jumped on the opportunity. I snagged a Groupon for a hotel room overlooking the Colorado river a few weeks before the trip so after dropping mom off at the airport we headed for the mountains. Thanks to Groupon, I paid $60 total for a room that originally runs for well over $100 per night. The night before the hike we walked around Glenwood and then settled on dinner at Chili’s. The weather was PERFECT – 82 degrees and glorious. Note: If you’re heading to the area, I highly recommend Quality Inn & Suites on the River. Glenwood has all sorts of hotels & motels to choose from – but The Quality Inn & Suites on the River backs up to the Colorado river. The hotel is so clean, the free hot & cold breakfast was perfect for a pre-hike meal & the lobby manager was very friendly. The beds were comfortable, the shower (I am picky when it comes to hotel showers – or any showers for that matter) was great & you really can’t go wrong with a hotel that literally sits on the Colorado River especially this time of year when the river is flowing & you can hear the rushing water (and see it) from your window.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then headed to Glenwood Canyon. The hike itself was 1.2 miles one way with an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet so it was moderately difficult. I use the word moderately seriously. It actually wasn’t as bad as some of the reviews I read suggested. It’s only 1.2 miles to the lake and yes, you’re walking up hill the entire time, but I’ve definitely hiked harder trails that were rated “moderate”. Another plus to this hike that a lot of mountainous Colorado hikes cannot offer is the overall elevation — you start around 6,000 feet which puts you at just over 7,000 when you reach your destination, which is Hanging Lake – a beautiful turquoise natural wonder & Spouting Rock – a gorgeous waterfall that appears to be coming out of a rock in the canyon wall.
Things to keep in mind: If you start early, the trail is going to be shaded. This is great for hotter days! As you near the lake the sun will shine through. If you get to the lake early enough, it will be shaded too. The shade takes away from the gorgeous aqua/turquoise colors of the lake so make sure you stay long enough to see the sun rise over the mountain & illuminate the lake. It took us about 50 minutes to reach the top & 40 (probably less) minutes to hike back down. Dogs aren’t allowed and it’s obvious to see why once you reach the lake. The colors of it just don’t preserve themselves – the lake needs the help of humans following the rules by staying out of the water & keeping animals at home or in the car.
Note: There is ample paved parking at the trail head with very nice restrooms. Apparently the parking lot fills up very quickly in the summer & on weekends so if you’re planning on going, get there early. We hit the trail by 8:45am 5/14/13 and there were only 2 other cars in the lot. When we got back to the lot after our hike at 11am there were about 10… or more.
Glenwood Canyon is truly beautiful and makes for a perfect backdrop for a hike
Hanging Lake had three waterfalls the day we were there
Me & Dad
Spouting Rock is a MUST.
It’s only a couple more minutes up and to the left of Hanging Lake and you must walk the extra few minutes (literally, like 5 or less). It’s an easy walk and the waterfall is huge & gorgeous.
Spouting Rock Waterfall
Hanging Lake in all it’s glory – this picture certainly doesn’t do it justice