From an Aspen Times story by Dale Shrull:
The closure is for trail maintenance and the replacement of the boardwalk that goes around most of the lake, said Pat Thrasher, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest.
It's been 18 years since the existing boardwalk was built. According to Thrasher, an estimated 1 million hikers have hiked the trail and used the boardwalk since it was installed in 1992. That's approximately 80,000 a year that make their way up the steep and picturesque 1.5-mile trail. Hanging Lake draws hikers year round, but the summer months are the most popular time for the trail.
The trail will close May 1 and reopen August 1, then close again for five days in mid-September. But this time it's going to last longer than 18 years. More from Shrull:
The project will include replacing the boardwalk with a different material that includes a metal understructure and a synthetic surface made of recycled wood and plastic. The new boardwalk will also allow sections to be replaced if needed in the future.The $1.1 million project will be a major volunteer effort; contact Colorado Wild for more information.
The new materials will result in a longer life span of the boardwalk, Thrasher said. They are hoping for 25 years, or possibly longer.
"It will be a long time before we have to do this again," he said.
According to Rich Doak, recreation staff officer for the White River National Forest, the number of hikers on the boardwalk make it necessary for a new one to be installed.
"To put it in perspective, imagine what your deck would look like if one million people had walked over it in just over eighteen years," Doak said.
(Photo: rjones0856's Flickr photostream)