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Zirkel Circle

  4.8 ( 12 ) Favorite


10.4 mile 16.8 kilometer loop


Ascent: 2,360' 719 m
Descent: -2,363' -720 m
High: 10,765' 3,281 m
Low: 8,427' 2,569 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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All Clear 15 days ago See History

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

Zander Göpfert

Features Lake · River/Creek · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked


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.


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.

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Aug 17, 2019
Katie Osland
Backpacked 1 night 6.47 + 4.6 11.1mi
Aug 5, 2019
Philip Halsey
Aug 4, 2019
Lyndsey Lack
Awesome hike 11mi — 5h 30m
Aug 4, 2019
Thomas Kelly
Bring fly rod next time. Also looks like great place to camp. Www.friendsofwilderness.com has good camping trail map 10.5mi — 6h 07m
Jul 27, 2019
todd w
Jul 27, 2019
Douglas Humble
Gettting atarted 10.3mi — 2h 45m
Apr 20, 2019
Lola Boj
Road is still closed at winter trailhead- 6 mi from the trail.
Aug 26, 2018
Anni Hurt
Went counter clockwise and hung out in the hammock at the lake. Perfect hike

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 12 votes


  4.8 from 12 votes
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