Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hike to Hanging Lakes

Just a short way up the Canyon from Glenwood is a hiking trail to Hanging Lakes. It's been a tourist attraction for almost as long as the Springs! We drove, but one could take the easy bike path at Railroad grade up from Glenwood.

The hike is up a steep creek bed which climbs out of the canyon. The trail has seen very heavy use, but it is fairly difficult. Rocky and winding, at least there are lots of nice places to sit and rest by the side of the creek...
The trail is a little over a mile long, but takes over an hour. The walls of the canyon spur are lovely book cliffs that host a clinging forest.

Finally one comes to a section of pipe handrails and super steep stone steps. Likely built by the CCC this section is tricky and a little scary for those of us who don't like heights...Ahhhh, then the lovely azure pools!
The water is super clear, fed by a spring from above. The spring minerals are depositing layers slowly on the pool bottom and anything that falls in. There is a boardwalk to prevent damaging the pools.

Lots of little chipmunks around, these guys have figured out that tourist carry snacks, though they must not see anyone in the winter, they're not as fat as most "tame" critters get.

A few more natural wonders, this "oil shale" columbine. Petite and pale yellow it thrives in the unique soil chemistry, and nowhere else. These plants are perched on the top of the waterfall which cascades down from the pools to the creek below.

And these little fishies! (Trout?) They enjoy the shade of the trees and the calm parts of the pool. I'm not sure if they ever more downstream though, as it really is a big drop in a few places on the stream...

We braved the steep climb down, it's a good thing we went somewhat early in the morning as the crowds were building on our desent. All kinds of people were on the trail, families with little kids, old folks, those crazy people who like to jog on rocky mountain trails...

And little ol' us. I felt a bit out of shape but we didn't have any trouble getting there. Now I've got the hiking bug again I think I'm going to plan a backpacking trip, with any luck the rain will let up for a few days1

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