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Zirkel Circle

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.8 (25) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A beautiful loop that is relatively easy to access from the Steamboat area but can attract crowds on holidays/weekends.


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Map Key

10.4

Miles

16.8

KM

Loop

10,765' 3,281 m

High

8,427' 2,569 m

Low

2,360' 719 m

Up

2,363' 720 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Wildlife

Overview

For runners, new backpackers, families, or anyone looking for a weekend backpacking adventure, this loop is an ideal option with access to water, views, and side scrambles to tack on more miles. The majority of visitors approach the loop from the west at the trailhead for the Gilpin Trail with ample parking and campgrounds along the road leading to the trailhead, but longer and more remote options lie to the east as well.

Need to Know

On the west side of town How Ya Doin' has delicious pizza and Storm Peak has great brews to enjoy after your hike! Taco Cabo has moved to 7th & Yampa downtown.

Description

The high point for this loop is almost exactly at the midway point, so it doesn't really matter which direction you choose to go. Generally speaking, going clockwise is a higher sustained grade overall but with fewer steep sections, while going counterclockwise is generally lower grade but with at least a couple steep sections. There is water on either side of the pass above Gilpin Lake.

Once in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, there are a number of camping options along the loop as long as you observe Wilderness regulations. The Mica Basin Trail #1162 is an obvious spur up along a creek drainage that descends from Mica Lake at the base of the Agnes peaks with numerous dispersed camping spots.

Bring a fly rod to test your mettle at the lakes along the way.

Flora & Fauna

There are black bears in this area so be alert and make noise periodically so as to prevent surprising or scaring them. Make sure to hang anything scented or food away from your campsite or bring a bear canister.

Contacts

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert with improvements by Shelly Waters

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 25 votes

#263

Overall
  4.8 from 25 votes
5 Star
84%
4 Star
16%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#62

in Colorado

#263

Overall
84 Views Last Month
33,879 Since Jun 4, 2018
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
42%
29%
29%
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Photos

Looking down on Gilpin Lake from halfway up the pass.
Jun 26, 2018 near Walden, CO
Heading up to Gilpin Lake, late June.
Jun 26, 2018 near Walden, CO
The lush lower Gold Creek meadows.
Jul 10, 2017 near Walden, CO
Coming down to Gilpin Lake.
Jul 19, 2022 near Walden, CO
Lower part of the falls at about 1.75 miles in.
Sep 16, 2018 near Walden, CO
Near stream crossing
Jul 19, 2022 near Walden, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 57 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Oct 10, 2022
Alejandro Cazar
Trail is in good condition. Seems the most beautiful part was actually the last three miles (going counterclockwise). Beautiful fall colors. — 4h 10m
Aug 28, 2022
Tom Dickman
10.4mi — 6h 00m
Aug 6, 2022
Kim Chrislip
W Jer as an overnight 10.4mi — 7h 45m
Jul 25, 2022
Kimberly Daly
Jun 28, 2022
Hanna Marti
Such a beautiful hike! Trail was easily lost with fallen trees and large snow patches. A little early in the season for the full summit. 11.1mi — 5h 45m
Jun 11, 2022
Cameron Hares
Following loop for Zirkle Circle. One night two days 10.4mi — 11h 00m
Jun 5, 2021
Wayne Thornes
10.4mi
Sep 6, 2020
Jesse Barr