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Zirkel Circle Hike

Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, Routt National Forest

Park Range Area, Colorado

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Zirkel Circle Hike

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  • Entering the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Early meadows and mountain views.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Beautiful views along the Zirkel Circle.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Beautiful views along the Zirkel Circle.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • First view of Gilpin Lake.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • From the south shore looking across Gilpin Lake toward Big Agnes.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • These aspen groves near Gilpin Lake are a delight in the fall.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • From Gilpin Ridge, Big Agnes and Mount Zirkel frame Gilpin Lake.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Looking southeast across Gold Creek Lake.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Looking northeast across Gold Creek Lake.- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Fly amanita (Amanita muscaria).- Zirkel Circle Hike
  • Indian paintbrush.- Zirkel Circle Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Expansive wilderness area. Spectacular alpine lakes. Remarkable view points. Seasonal wildflowers.
Cons: 
No camping at the trailhead.
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Region:
Park Range Area, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,400.00 ft (731.52 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
11.20 mi (18.02 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
8,480.00 ft (2,584.70 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Zirkel Circle hike is a loop that connects the Gilpin Lake and Gold Creek Lake trail (1161 and 1150, respectively) in the Zirkel Wilderness just outside of Steamboat Springs. As far as Colorado outdoor recreation areas go, the Zirkel Wilderness is a bit off the radar for most. Those who have seen the area's rugged peaks, picturesque alpine lakes and meadows, and spectacular summer and fall colors would likely happily keep it way.

The Zirkel Circle can be hiked in either direction; below is a clockwise description, but counterclockwise offers a more gradual ascent. Regardless, the decision must be made early, as the loop junction is less than 0.25 miles from the Slavonia Trailhead.  

Heading toward Gilpin Lake, a spur trail to Mica Lake will diverge to the left in just over a mile. The total distance to Gilpin Lake is a bit over 4 miles, and the Gilpin Ridge overlook to the south of the lake is roughly the halfway point of the hike. From Gilpin Ridge, the distance to Gold Creek Lake is approximately 3 miles. Gold Creek Lake is the smaller of the two, and less picturesque, but it is a great relaxation spot and a frequent swimming hole for those that visit in the summer heat. It is just under 3 miles to get back to the Slavonia Trailhead from Gold Creek lake, making it a popular out-and-back day hike destination.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

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