Trail access fees proposed for Hanging Lake

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. -- A proposal for a new management plan for Hanging Lake Trail could include a fee for access to the popular trail and a shuttle system to keep hikers from parking at the trailhead.

U.S. Forest Service officials say the proposal, to be unveiled soon, would also establish a cap of 615 hikers a day, about 40 percent of the number on an average summer day.

Park rangers have been threatening to tighten restrictions at Hanging Lake after an increase of vandalism, illegal parking and violations of the swimming ban.

Glenwood Springs Fire chief Gary Tillotson said he hopes the new plan will cut down on the number of emergency calls to Hanging Lake, which is the farthest point in its jurisdiction.

One emergency call to Hanging Lake can keep up to half of the fire department's resources out of reach for emergencies in town.

"There are always going to be hikers and potential for injuries and the need for us and for search and rescue," Tillerson told the Post Independent. "But the key is to bring those numbers down."

Last year, the department responded to 15 calls within a six-month period and it already has responded to six the season.

Glenwood Fire relies on help from the Garfield County Sheriff's Office and Garfield County Search and Rescue, especially in retrieving people injured in spots that are difficult to reach.

Earlier this month, an 8-year-old Highlands Ranch boy after an accident at the lake.