Visiting Hanging Lake in the Winter Months

A packed ice surface on a trailThe Hanging Lake Trail is a steep 1.2 mile backcountry hike up a narrow canyon. The hike continuously climbs 1000 feet from the Colorado River to reach the lake, near the canyon rim. The trail is steep and rocky. In the winter it is also icy, snow-packed and slippery. 

Foot traffic quickly compacts fluffy new snow into slippery ice. In winter, the trail is shaded and retains ice even when other areas have bare ground.

The trail will be icy all winter, no matter the weather in town or at the parking area.

Winter Hiking Requires Special Equipment

Shoes with traction devices attached in the snowUse winter traction devices which slip over your boots (ice cleats, micro-spikes, mini- crampons) and hiking poles to hike safely and to protect the soil and vegetation. Hiking to the Lake may take longer due to slick, icy, and cold conditions. 

Hikers without mini-crampons and poles risk falling on the slippery trail. Walking on the sides of the trail for better traction damages the soil and vegetation. To protect the area, scrambling off the trail is not permitted

Stay off the frozen lake. It is extremely dangerous to walk on the ice.

Be Prepared

Winter hikers should have a well-supplied backpack with survival gear such as: hat, additional layers, food, first aid kit, gloves, headlamp, and other winter survival gear. Remember, it is cold out there.

There is no cell coverage at the lake or on the trail. In event of an emergency you will need to use the Colorado Department of Transportation’s emergency phone located on the Recreation Path at the bottom of the trail. Search and Rescue could take hours to respond since they are a volunteer resource.

Respect Protective Regulations & Wildlife

All regulations still apply during the winter months at Hanging Lake. These rules are especially important since the trail, wildlife, and vegetation can be more sensitive during the winter due to the additional moisture and drastic temperature changes.

Please respect wildlife during the winter. They are conserving energy to just stay alive. Do not harass, feed, or disturb wild animals. The trail is still closed to dogs in the winter. This is especially important to the wildlife.

Report an Issue

If you encounter an issue on the trail please contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District: (970) 827-5715.

Examples of issues include:

  • Tree across the trail
  • Damage to bridges or boardwalk
  • Missing signs

Check list and permit information

Visit, or call Hanging Lake visitor information: (970) 384-6309.

A snowy path and a large sandwich board reminder of things visitors need in winter at Hanging Lake Hiker with poles and traction devices in snow.