GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Glenwood Springs is pledging $50,000 for repairs to the Hanging Lake trail system, which was severely damaged in July from debris flows.
The city said it will make the donation to the National Forest Foundation, the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service.
Restoring this area is critical to not only the people responsible for the lands, but also for local communities' small businesses and tourism.
“Hanging Lake is a beloved community amenity that holds a distinguished place in the social fabric and economic vitality of Glenwood Springs,” said Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes. “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.”
The debris slides around Hanging Lake and Glenwood Canyon were an off-and-on problem throughout the summer, with every storm bringing the potential to loosen soil burned from the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire and send it flowing downhill across Interstate 70. The interstate was closed multiple times due to occurring mudslides or the threat of mudslides. In total, the debris flows left 16 million pounds of rock, mud and debris on the road.
Much of the Hanging Lake trail, plus multiple bridges, was destroyed in the flows and it was closed most of the summer. The flows also temporarily turned the crystal clear water a murky brown.
The funds from the City of Glenwood, as well as other donations from groups like the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance (which is contributing $25,000), Sunlight Mountain Resort, and the Aspen Community Foundation, will help with a variety of projects to restore the landscape and repair infrastructure so the public can access the area. About $6,000 was also collected from people who donated their canceled Hanging Lake permit fees from the summer. In total, this brought the contributions to $150,000, according to the National Forest Federation.
The National Forest Foundation is working with the White River National Forest to determine which projects are most urgent.
White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said there is a "tremendous" amount of work ahead.
"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," Fitzwilliams said. "With the support of partners such as the City of Glenwood Springs and National Forest Foundation, we will be able to complete the long-term trail much sooner than if we were going it alone."
Depending on future spring runoff problems, the White River National Forest plans to open Hanging Lake in the summer of 2022 via a reservation system.
Looking long-term, the National Forest Foundation and White River National Forest will work on designing a more sustainable and permanent trail to Hanging Lake that will withstand runoffs better than the previous trail.
The National Forest Foundation is continuing to collect donations to support fixing the Hanging Lake Trail.