GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Hanging Lake Trail will officially open to the public this Saturday. While you will need a reservation to hike, the views are worth it.
“I think they moved like, ten tons of rock yesterday [Wednesday] to get the steps and such in place, so yeah, I mean the trail is ready to go, we’re excited for Saturday for the first folks out there,” said Leanne Veldhuis, the Eagle Holy Cross District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service.READ MORE: Daniel Montano Jailed In Pueblo For Kidnapping, Beating Woman Days After Arrest For Allegedly Assaulting Her In Denver
The reservation system began in 2019 as a way to help with overcrowding. When it opened this past April, there were more than 23,000 reservations.
“There are still plenty of spots available,” said Lisa Langer, Director of Tourism for Glenwood Springs.
While most weekends in May are booked, there are 615 slots available each day between May and October 31, the primary season. Reservations are still required outside of the main season, but you can expect fewer crowds.
On Thursday, representatives from the city of Glenwood Springs, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, Colorado Department of Transportation, and USDA Forest Service proudly gave media a sneak peak of what visitors can expect.
“There’s some burned trees, and just some areas of maybe looser soil and such, but it’s definitely hikeable,” said Veldhuis.
This is Veldhuis’ territory. She began her position four weeks before the Grizzly Creek Fire started and as a result, quickly became familiar with the work that needed to be done to reopen the area.READ MORE: Caught On Video: School Bus Driver Bertram Jaquez Admits Slapping 10-Year-Old Girl In Dispute Over Face Mask
“I got to hike along the trail during the fire, because we were assessing, ‘how was Hanging Lake?, did it survive?’ and that sort of thing,” she said.
Until an aerial survey was completed, officials didn’t know if Hanging Lake survived. Many assumed there was long-term damage, but somehow the trail and lake were untouched.
“It was just that sort of that sigh of relief, within what was otherwise, you know, a traumatic and difficult experience on the community; with closing the highway and the economic impact and you know threats to water sources and everything, I think Hanging Lake surviving was this one shining moment,” she said.
Bigger picture concerns about debris flows still remain in Glenwood canyon. While the trail is finally safe to hike, reservations are not a guarantee. The Colorado Department of Transportation encourages Hanging Lake hikers to always check the forecast.
“Keep checking the weather and also make sure you’re checking COTrip.org, and we’ve got the latest information there about the path and the road. If we meet a certain threshold for what’s in the forecast for the next day, we will close the … recreational path and the rest areas,” said Elise Thatcher, Region Three Communication’s Manager for CDOT. “Now it’s not because we don’t want people out here to be enjoying the gorgeous canyon, it’s because when we evacuate the canyon, it’s much faster to do that, it’s much safer for everyone involved if we’ve got people in their cars.”
If the forecast shows a Flash Flood Watch, that’s when the recreation areas will be closed if they weren’t already closed overnight. If there is a warning, Thatcher says the canyon will evacuate.
“If we’re getting weather events or issues happening in the canyon, you know, we’re all gonna prioritize safety there and do closures or traffic delays if we need to, depending on what’s happening here,” said Veldhuis.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
For more information on how to make a reservation, go to visitglenwood.com/hanginglake.