GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado landmark could be closed until summer after vandals painted graffiti on rocks and trees along the trail.
Last week, officials with the National Forest Service discovered fresh graffiti on multiple rocks, trees and trail infrastructure up and down Hanging Lake Trail.
Rangers found the word "Blest” with an accompanying arrow painted along the trail, causing an estimated $3,000 in damage.
“This is outrageous,” district ranger Aaron Mayville said. "People who vandalize and blatantly disregard the rules have no business being on the National Forest, and we plan on finding and charging the individual responsible.”
The vandalism combined with illegal parking, and swimming and walking out on the log has the Forest Service considering closing the trail until summer staff are available to handle the issues.
“At the rate we’re going, we may have to close the trail until we can get our summer staffing on board,” Mayville said. “The rules are in place to protect this public treasure, but if people can’t follow them, I have a responsibility to the greater public to tighten restrictions until the behavior is stopped.”
Mayville added that money to repair the trail means the Forest Service has "less to spend on hiring summer rangers, and their patrol season will be shorter."
Officials recommend visiting the landmark in off-peak hours in the early morning or evening to find a legal parking spot.
The Forest Service also reminds people that dogs are not allowed on the trail and that swimming in the lake, and walking out on the log and into the lake, are illegal.
In 2016, more than 137,000 people visited the lake during the summer months.
Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.