A good example of this is the semi-polished summit of Mount Zirkel (12,180 ft.), the highest point in the wilderness. Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter packed with the best adventure guides, travel ideas, news, and articles. The 6.4 mile out and back to Slide lake starts out at an elevation of 8750 and gives you a total elevation gain of 1777 feet at the end at Slide Lake. A 3 day backing loop in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness of Colorado. I’d much rather hike this in the heat of the summer with a dry trail. I had set that up months ago and forgot about it. Beautiful hike! The Zirkel Circle can be hiked in either direction; below is a clockwise description, but counterclockwise offers a more gradual ascent. The Zirkel Wilderness which is northwest of Steamboat provided my entry into backpacking and fishing. From Gilpin Ridge, the distance to Gold Creek Lake is approximately 3 miles. Gorgeous in the fall. About 4200 vertical feet and 11 miles to summit. Also, due to the recent snowfall, it was fairly wet throughout and really slushy/snowy near the lake and the saddle. Passed a number of folks on the trail which required stepping off the trail because of narrowness. It is gorgeous and it is long. Zirkel Wilderness Area is one of the most beautiful places to hike imaginable, with trails of all lengths and levels of difficulty. Outdoor Project may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers. At 12,180 feet, it is the high point in Colorado's Park Range, Routt County, and its namesake wilderness. Simply put, Mount Zirkel is one of the best mountains in Colorado. The hard work is worth the views. Two of our volunteers last week overnighted and cleared trees from the wilderness legs of Swamp Park and Red Dirt. In and out of the Lake Katherine Trailhead on the East side of the Wilderness Area. As far as Colorado outdoor recreation areas go, the Zirkel Wilderness is a bit off the radar for most. Click on the trail with the pointed finger to go to the web page for that trail. But when it arrives, it rushes in with a blaze of wildflower blossoms and a surge of meltwater that turns trickling streams into raging cataracts. However, the road leading up to the TH has lots of free dispersed camping. Just remember you cannot camp close to the two large lakes, you have to be 1 and 1/4 mile away from them and that is pretty well marked. The views as you come up on the pass from the South are breathtaking and then you will have us the hard parts behind you as you descend to Gilpin Lake. They may not be 14ers or even 13ers, but these peaks in the heart of the Mt. Did the loop counter clockwise and planned to camp before the climb to Gilpin Lake, but we were feeling great and opted to do the whole loop. (Probably not what you'd find on a weekend or before Labor Day.) Recommend going up over the top and making a loop. The loop consists of two trails: the Gold Creek Trail (#1150), which connects to the Gilpin Trail (#1161) at a junction about 5 miles into the hike. Zirkel—where the natural infinity pool drops off to its eponymous creek. Photo: Jeremy White. A 45-minute drive from Steamboat Springs, this loop hike offers some of the best views of jagged peaks in the area as well as two alpine lakes. Beautiful lake up top and lush green trails (for Colorado). I am 29 weeks pregnant and did this as a 1 night backpacking trip this past Labor Day weekend. Not surprising that we saw more backpackers than hikers. It consists mainly of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness … Once in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, there are a number of camping options along the loop as long as you observe Wilderness regulations. Closer to 11 miles on my recording. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Zirkel, Big Horn Lake. Mount Zirkel/Park Range Area The Mount Zirkel/Park Range area is on the Routt National Forest in northwestern Colorado. Phone 303-478-7586 – Mount Zirkel Wilderness Lakes are plentiful and beautiful. 1.8k votes, 35 comments. Did the loop mid-week and was not disappointed. I am proud to say that I hiked to the summit of Mt. Take some time at this viewpoint (we ate lunch) and soak up the amazing view. The view overlooking Gilpin Lake is fantastic. © 2020 Outdoor Project. Side note: I rolled my ankle badly on the way down where aspen leaves are covering the trail, hiding rocks. We backpacked what is locally known as "The Zirkel Circle." Now is the time to get out and enjoy a great variety of mountain wildflowers if you pick your hiking trails carefully. With fresh views at every step, none of your time or energy is wasted. If you are a strong hiker, you can do it in a day and don’t need to backpack it. Easy to cancel ... and no cell signal, so wouldn't have worked, anyway. Lots of little stream crossings and the colors were great! Zirkel, alpine style, in a single day. Add Your Trails. Trails in Mount Zirkel Wilderness - 43. The road to the trailhead could be traversed by any car. 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. If you’re looking for an early summer backpacking trip, try this lower elevation version of the Zirkel Circle — a loop encompassing Mad Creek, Swamp Park, Red Dirt and Saddle trails. Once in the wilderness, you can access Mt. There was no snow (unlike a week ago, apparently), just tiny bit of mud, and the downed trees are all cleared from the trail now. Nice day hike. just did 2 nights this weekend. The highlight of the hike is the stunningly blue Gilpin Lake which provides a magnificent photo opportunity from the top of … Great views, spectacular cascades, and Greenback Cutthroat trout. Backpacking under the stars in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area is located directly west of Walden, Co and north of Steamboat Springs, Co. Our original plan was to head out Monday and hike in from the East Boundary. It’ll work you to do the full loop in a day with backpacking gear, but it’s doable. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from June until September. Start at the Rainbow Lake Trailhead 1126 in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness which is 19 miles south west of Walden, Colorado off Country Road 22A. It was one of the original areas protected under the 1964 Wilderness Act and has since been expanded twice to its present size of 160,648 acres. We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We promise not to annoy you, but if you wish, you may unsubscribe at any time. This allows you the great reward of viewing Gilpin Lake from the highest point. Started seeing hikers coming up a couple miles below Gilpin Lake, and lots of people closer to the trailhead. But I love the feature! Spectacular alpine lakes. Seasonal wildflowers. After that, not a soul for miles. A decent number of accolades for a mountain in a state which contains over 1,000 higher peaks. fantastic backpacking and lots of streams for your fury friends. I bet in a few weeks the Aspens will be peaking. When researching and talking to others, all direct you to hiking to Gilpin Lake in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The Best Winter Adventures in North America. The USGS was entrusted with the responsibility for mapping the country in 1879 and has been the primary civilian mapping agency of the United States ever since. Went from a full run to dead stop. Luckily four spectacular lakes are an easy day hike off of Seedhouse Road near the mountain town of Clark. It can be a nice day hike, or you can use it to enter the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. S&S Wallride at Jackson Hole, 85 Foot Cliff Front Flip, Drone Powder Skiing with Owen Leeper - Duration: 5:15. Other than it’s length, it is a fairly easy trail. I saw 1 hiker at the trailhead when I left and a camp just before the first lake. Trailhead was very busy so parking and getting on the trail early was key. Summer comes late to the snowy Park Range at the core of Colorado's Mt. Less than a quarter-mile from the trailhead you'll reach the Gold Creek Lake Trail (trail 1150) junction, which … Mother nature is starting to show signs of fall which is absolutely gorgeous. Loop hikes are considered to be the pinnacle hiking experience. Very high elevation -- most of the trip between 9,000 - 12,000 feet along the continental divide. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from June until September. Be prepared to get wet! We got to the trail head just after 8 am and barely got a parking spot. Expansive wilderness area. Steamboat Springs and Elkhorn Mountain OHV Loop. Mt. Beautiful views with the recent snow, however there were a ton of fallen trees that we were constantly climbing over/under or walking around which made the trek slow. This way was less steep. Trail itself is well kept. There were many fallen threes but it was good to see that the forest had many workers clearing them up. The large land area of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness features a … Thankfully the smoke started clearing up around noon. Zirkel Wilderness area provide a great wilderness experience. It now contains over 160,000 acres of land, situated within the Routt National Forest. As others have suggested, I would recommend a counterclockwise loop. So I would say that if I can do it, so can you! Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. My Garmin watch immediately went into emergency contact mode! Great underrated area of Colorado and would highly recommend as a day hike. Rocky Mountain columbine should be blooming over the next several weeks in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. The best known USGS maps are the 1:24,000-scale topographic maps, also known as 7.5-minute quadrangles. We were able to find parking around 8:30 am on a Sunday morning without any problem. Don’t do this trail, unless you love wildflowers, butterflies, alpine meadows, and gorgeous lakes! This Wilderness area is home to the headwaters of the Elk, Encampment and North Platte Rivers, as well as some 70 lakes, high mountain peaks (including the 12,180 foot-tall Mount Zirkel for which it is named) and a portion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. We went counterclockwise. The gold creek lake is a great snack point , and after descending into Gilpin area. Zirkel is the high point of Routt County and of the Mt. All trails map routes you away from a stream crossing to climb a log over faster water, just cross the stream. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. All of this wilderness is located in northwestern Colorado and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. But the section of trail through northern Colorado’s Zirkel Wilderness still stands out. Zirkel Wilderness. I’m really glad we did the whole loop- gilpin was amazing even in the haze, and we had some blue skies for the hike back down! The Zirkel Circle is the most popular hike in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The Mount Zirkel Wilderness lies within the Routt National Forest in northwestern Colorado. Rainbows, browns, brookies, Yellowstone cutthroat and native greenback and Colorado River cutthroat (which the park has been reintroducing since 1975) all make their home here. There are 15 peaks in the wilderness that surpass 12,000 feet in elevation, with 12,180-foot Mount Zirkel being the highest. It was named after highest peak Mount Zirkel, which was named after the geologist, Ferdinand Zirkel. We camped near Gilpin and finished the loop the next day. Gold Creek lake is only a few miles from the trail head, but it's all uphill! 1.1m members in the hiking community. Regardless, the decision must be made early, as the loop junction is less than 0.25 miles from the Slavonia Trailhead. Beautiful hike. Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area. 4 am start at Slavonia trail head and reached the summit at 10:30 am. They say you cant sleep at the trailhead but clearly people do it, maybe in their cars? Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment? We spend four days in Zirkel on a backpacking loop. I used Strava app to track, and it said we did 11.7 miles total. September 15 and 16, we headed to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and then an hour more into the Zirkel Wilderness. We did it counterclockwise and that is definitely the way to go. First, I love this site! This trail is good … Some trails have an abundance of flowers whereas other trails have relatively few. Ahh, Wilderness! All rights reserved. Get to the trail early because by 11am on Sunday there were at least 50 cars parked miles down the road. Mary Korch. To obtain information on a trail you see below, move your curser over the trail and if there is information available the curser will turn into a pointed finger. 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. Due to last minute changes, my normal hunting partner, Rita, was unable to go. It’s about nourishment and learning. We were about 5 minutes from the trailhead when I (DeNae) realize that I had left my hiking shoes at home. I didn't run as much as I wanted due to unhappy knees. The wilderness and the peak are both named after Ferdinand Zirkel, a German geologist. Definitely recommend doing it counterclockwise as the views seemed to be even better. The Mica Basin Trail #1162 is an obvious spur up along a creek drainage that descends from Mica Lake at the base of the … This map also shows area affected by the Routt Divide Blowdown. Walden, CO 2 21.1 mi 33.9 km #2 CDT: Buffalo Pass to North Lake (CO Sec. Rifle Falls. 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. Intermediate. O_leeps | Big Mountain Ski Videos 2,466,153 views Definitely more like 13 mi than the listed 10 mi. We decided to do it in two days, camping at night simple because of the amazing camp spots you can find around the trail. Also saw mule deer, marmots, all the squirrels ... the.usual crowd. Definitely one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. 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