By Jennifer McRae

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Hanging Lake Trail is closed after recent rock and mudslides in Glenwood Canyon. The mudslides left the typically clear lake murky and muddy and damaged trails around the lake.

(credit: CBS)

Forest officials later shared a picture of the lake on Wednesday showing it returned to clearer water and said the fish are still swimming.

(credit: USFS)

The Forest Service said on Wednesday morning the trail will be closed for the rest of the season and likely beyond. This comes after significant damage was found on the trail from debris flows from last month’s intense rainstorms during an intial assessment.

“Unfortunately, when our crews surveyed the trail, we found significant damage.  Bridges have been completely destroyed or severely damaged and there are mudslides blocking large sections of the trail.  The Hanging Lake Trail is not safe and impassable in some areas and will remain closed for the foreseeable future,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams in a statement. “The debris flows we saw in July are probably not the last we will see, so there could be additional damage in the weeks and months ahead.”

(credit: US Forest Service)

New reservations are not being taken for the trail. The trail moved to a reservation-only system in 2019 due to the popularity of the trail and a crowded parking lot.

The Grizzly Creek Fire burned close to Hanging Lake last year. The wildfire did burn through some of the lower Hanging Lake Trail but much of the area surrounding the lake was spared.

On a typical day, hikers can see through the turquoise water to the bottom of the lake because it is so clear. It is off-limits to swim or even enter the lake.

“The good news is that the water in Hanging Lake is clearing from the debris flow, the boardwalk at the lake wasn’t damaged, and the fish are still swimming,” Fitzwilliams said.

The Forest Service said that a more extensive survey of the damage needs to be complete to determine the next steps for trail repair and reconstruction.

“We know this is difficult news for the many people who cherish Hanging Lake,” Fitzwilliams said. “It’s also tough for the community and those of us who have worked to protect this iconic Colorado destination.  We are committed to doing everything we can to reconstruct the trail as soon as funds become available.”

Those who have made reservations can apply for a refund or donate their reservation fee to a restoration fund for Hanging Lake, both the trail and welcome area.

The mudslides at the end of July closed a 46-mile stretch of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon for more than two weeks. One lane in each direction of I-70 reopened on Saturday. There is the possibility of another closure in the same area if a Flash Flood Warning is issued on Wednesday afternoon.

(credit: CBS)

For those who wish to cancel their reservation, please review your confirmation email and follow the cancellation instructions, or email info@hanginglakeexpress.com and a refund will be issued in a timely manner.

RELATED: Flash Flood Warning Possible For Glenwood Canyon Wednesday Afternoon, Crews Prepare For Possible I-70 Closure

Jennifer McRae