U.S. Forest Service to impose visitor cap, reservation system for Hanging Lake Trail

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Forest Service will begin limiting the number of people who can use Hanging Lake Trail each day in an attempt to protect one of the most popular natural attractions in the state.

The draft decision released Tuesday will limit visitors to 615 a day year-round beginning later this year, a 40 percent reduction from the 1,000 people who use the trail on the busiest days during the summer.

There will be a fee-based reservation or permit system and a shuttle will be used to manage the daily capacity during the peak season of May 1 to Oct. 31.

Specific implementation details on cost, timing and how to obtain a permit and/or reservation will be determined at a later date.

“Thanks to the hundreds of public comments received and years of planning and study, we have reached this important and exiting milestone,” district ranger Aaron Mayville said.

“We’ve still got some work to do, but we’re looking forward to implementing these new changes at Hanging Lake this year.”

The U.S. Forest Service said 184,000 people visited Hanging Lake east of Glenwood Springs in 2017, a 23 percent jump from 2016.

There have been numerous instances of graffiti on rocks, a widening trail and people swimming in the lake. There has also been damage to the area’s vegetation, resources and infrastructure within the area.

There is a 45-day objections period. Anyone who submits comments can file an objection to the decision.