White River National Forest near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Trail: 1.5 miles, steep. Follows a rushing stream the entire way through a deep, heavily wooded canyon. Figure 2-3 hours round trip.
Access: From Glenwood Springs, take I-70 east 9 miles to the Hanging Lake exit (125). From the parking lot, you must walk east along the river trail for 1/8 mile to access the trail. To return to eastbound I-70, you must enter onto westbound, take the Grizzly Creek exit 2 miles west, and then get on eastbound I-70.
Trailhead: NAD83 zone13 312395e 4384824n
Map:USGS Quad: Shoshone
Dogs: No dogs allowed at all (discrimination! Dogs are people too!)
Weather: Current & recent conditions from MesoWest
National Weather Service Forecast
Snow information from NOAA
On an early day in May, Dave and I stopped into the Hanging Lake parking lot on our way back home from southern Utah, and a drizzly night near Fruita, Colorado. The morning was fresh and clear after a light rain the night before, and a warm sun shone down as I pulled on my walking shoes and threw my camera over my shoulder. We walked east along the wide concrete bike path that runs along the Colorado River for 17 miles for a short distance to the head of the trail. Being a weekday, there were very few cars in the lot, and the area seemed deserted. Though close to the interstate, the only sound to reach my ears was the rushing water of Dead Horse Creek. The trail started uphill immediately without preamble, following close to the cascading torrent of the creek, swollen with springmelt. Not 500 yards from the trailhead, I called to Dave to hold up while I threaded my way through shrubs and branches down to the water for a few photographs. On up the trail we went at a brisk pace, drawing out sweat that felt cool in the occasional breezes. Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine lined the trail, keeping most of it shade. The oaks and willows had not yet leafed out. We passed a few people hiking up the trail, and I stopped several times for photographs. Near the end of the trail, we passed a large group of schoolkids whose bus was in the parking lot. Some field trip! All we ever got to do was go the museum. The last section led up a steep rock face with railing, and finally we arrived at the lake after about 45 minutes of hiking.
A narrow boardwalk led around the southern edge of a crystalline blue pool of shimmering water about 50 meters across. A submerged log was covered in moss, and perfectly visible in the clear water. The clarity reminded me of thermal pools in Yellowstone where the heat keeps the water clear of all algae, and thus clear as glass to any depth. The blue of the water was milky, like the glacial waters of Grinnell Lake in Montana. On the north end of the lake, two stately sheets of water plunged white water over a rocky face and into the pool, where a fine mist sprayed up and wafted towards us. Amazing. This is Bridal Veil Falls. We walked to the far end of the boardwalk, and as we tarried, taking photographs and admiring a living picture, the boardwalk filled up with schoolkids.
We returned to the trail, and Dave led the way up to a second pool behind the waterfalls, and to another waterfall much taller than the first two, called Spouting Rock. We followed the trail to the waterfall, and then behind it through an undercut in the rock. Water spray clouded everything, and the roar of water smashing into the pool below blocked out all other sound. Emerging on the other side, we walked further uphill and away from the falls. I spent several minutes delicately picking my way across wet logs to stand immediately before the falls and shoot a few photos. Getting back to the trail was tricky, and involved using my tripod to help vault me across a wide and deep section of the channel. I managed to do it without wetting my shoes, and we were then back on the trail, heading downhill. Schoolkids were just on their way up to the waterfall we had just left. The remainder of the trip down was a quick downhill stroll, which we completed in about 30 minutes with help from our friend gravity.
See more great photographs at www.LandscapeImagery.com
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