Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,400.00 ft (731.52 m)
Trail type
11.20 mi (18.02 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Expansive wilderness area. Spectacular alpine lakes. Remarkable view points. Seasonal wildflowers.


No camping at the trailhead.

Trailhead Elevation

8,480.00 ft (2,584.70 m)


Backcountry camping
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Big Game Watching

Suitable for




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