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Extreme Trail Damage Closes Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon at Least Into 2022

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9News
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This bridge on the Hanging Lake trail washed downstream and now sits in a new location.

Officials announced on Wednesday that Hanging Lake will remain closed for the foreseeable future and at least into 2022.

Located in Glenwood Canyon at the site of last summer's Grizzly Creek Fire, Hanging Lake is one of Colorado's most popular tourist destinations. Hanging Lake was closed following multiple mudslides that also closed Interstate 70 for two weeks.

Officials said Wednesday the hiking trail up to Hanging Lake has extreme damage and will need to be rebuilt.

While the trail had seven bridges, many were washed out from mudslide debris flows from high above the trail. In many places the trail has been completely washed away.

Forest officials emphasized the repairs will not be a minor re-route, but a complete rebuild with complete reconstruction needed.

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9News
One of the Hanging Lake trail's seven bridges used to span this ravine. It washed away during recent heavy rains and mudslides.

Large, loose debris flows will make repairs difficult and dangerous for workers. The site is also difficult to access with no road access, so getting equipment to the trail will call for planning and analysis, forest officials said.

"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," said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.

Damage to trail to Hanging Lake

"The Hanging Lake Trail is not safe and impassable in some areas," added Fitzwilliams.

The cost to reconstruct the trail to Hanging Lake will be significant, officials said. The hiking trail will need to be redesigned to meet the "new landscape" created by the mudslides.

Officials said the 15,000 reservations that have been made to hike Hanging Lake this year will be refunded. Customers can access their confirmation email and cancel their reservations for an immediate refund.

Hanging Lake officials expected an additional 20,000 reservations to be made this year. Proceeds from the reservations go to support Hanging Lake and the trail, so the mudslide's financial impact will be felt greatly.

As for Hanging Lake itself, officials said the lake is in great shape and the boardwalk around the lake is a good condition as well.

Officials said the fish in Hanging Lake are still alive and the water quality is improving.

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9News
Officials say Hanging Lake was spared from serious damage from recent mudslides. Fish are still alive and water quality is improving.

Glenwood Springs officials are encouraging visitors to still visit the area even with Hanging Lake remaining closed. Maroon Bells is open for reservations into the fall and Glenwood Springs has other hiking options as well.

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said repairs on Interstate 70 are ongoing and one traffic lane is open in each direction. CDOT will accept bids from contractors with the aim of opening two lanes in each direction by Thanksgiving.

CDOT also said the bike trail in Glenwood Canyon suffered extreme damage. The bike trail is "gone" in several places and still underwater in other areas.

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This story was written in partnership with 9News, through a collaboration powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative — a nonprofit formed to strengthen local public-service journalism in Colorado. KSUT joined this historic collaboration with more than 40 news organizations to share in-depth local reporting to better serve Coloradans.

Mark Duggan provided online production of this story for KSUT.

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