The City of Glenwood Springs has pledged $50,000 to the National Forest Foundation (NFF), the congressionally chartered nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, to support critical restoration work on the Hanging Lake trail system. The popular trail is currently closed following severe damage by debris flows in July 2021.
Restoration of the recreational areas impacted by the debris flows is critical to the local communities that steward these lands, as well as the small businesses and industries that rely on tourism, recreation, and healthy landscapes.
“Hanging Lake is a beloved community amenity that holds a distinguished place in the social fabric and economic vitality of Glenwood Springs,”...“Together in our partnerships to reconstruct the trail, we are optimistic to see work towards a transitional solution next year and groundwork for the long-term resiliency of this irreplaceable natural resource.”
Also supporting this community-driven restoration effort is the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance, who has pledged $25,000 towards restoring access to the trail, and contributions from more than 6,000 Hanging Lake visitors who donated their permit fee refunds back to the trail. They join Sunlight Mountain Resort, whose ongoing guest donation program benefits NFF’s White River National Forest (WRNF) Restoration Fund, and the Aspen Community Foundation, whose Grizzly Creek Fire Fund supports restoration work in the burn area.
The massive debris flows in Glenwood Canyon that stranded motorists and closed Interstate 70 for weeks decimated the beloved Hanging Lake trail system. Triggered by heavy rain in the Grizzly Creek burn scar, the debris flows deposited over 16 million pounds of rocks, mud, and debris on the roadway. Most of the trail to Hanging Lake, a rare travertine formation that is a favorite destination of locals and visitors alike, was destroyed by the debris flows, along with several bridges.
The funds pledged by the City of Glenwood and other stakeholders will be available to the WRNF and its partners to implement a variety of projects to help restore the landscape as well as repair important infrastructure for public access. The NFF is currently working closely with WRNF staff to identify priority projects to address urgent, on-the-ground needs through investments from the WRNF Restoration Fund. Currently, those priorities include debris removal and constructing a primitive trail for limited public access.
“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us given the large amount of debris and damage to the Hanging Lake trail,”... "We now have the opportunity to rebuild the trail to last another 100 years so the public can continue to enjoy this iconic Colorado location. With the support of partners such as the City of Glenwood Springs and NFF, we will be able to complete the long-term trail much sooner than if we were going it alone.”
Pending any further complications resulting from spring runoff, the WRNF is aiming to reopen Hanging Lake to limited public access sometime in summer 2022. While the exact details of what this limited, more primitive experience will entail are still being worked out, access will continue to be provided in conjunction with a reservation system.
Longer term, the NFF is working with the WRNF to fund the design of a more sustainable, state-of-the-art permanent trail to Hanging Lake that will better withstand future runoff events while improving the visitor experience.
“Working in partnership with the Forest Service and local communities for the benefit of our forests and those who enjoy them is at the heart of the NFF’s work, and we’re grateful to the City of Glenwood and other stakeholders for their support of this effort."
We still need your help to restore Hanging Lake! While these new contributions help us move forward with getting a primitive trail constructed, further support is needed to fully address repairs to recreational infrastructure and restoration of the ecosystem and habitat impacted by the fire and debris flows.
More information about how to donate is available on NFF’s White River National Forest Restoration Fund page:https://support.nationalforests.org/wrnf