Mount Zirkel Loop Trail

HARD 64 reviews

Mount Zirkel Loop Trail is a 10.3 mile loop trail located near Clark, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,463 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

forest

views

wild flowers

snow

4 months ago

We went clockwise and was good as the other way would have been much longer in the ascent. Loved this hike but my IPhone clocked 13 miles. It was gorgeous but a few more miles than I expected. Perfect time to hike it. I will go back and probably camp halfway next time. ❤️

4 months ago

We hiked that trail today 9/13 it was an amazing hike, we went counterclockwise and did the entire Loop. Unfortunately we lost a Micro SD card on the trail - it is in a plastic case- if anybody finds it please message me. or call Brian 847-702-9240. Thank you

hiking
4 months ago

hiked on Labor Day 9/3/18 with my 16 year old son. Got a later start, arrived at trailhead at 9am. VERY crowded parking wise. But trail was not too crowded. Saw a few groups, all courteous and enjoying the hike. No tough creek crossings. No significant wildlife sightings on this day; however, my wife and I had hiked the Gilpin Lake trail two weeks before and ran into a bear about 45 minutes up from the trailhead. The bear was only about 10 yards from the trail.....never once looked up from his feeding frenzy on the vegetation. Lots of dogs as part of the groups, only about half were leashed, none were trouble. The hike is AWESOME. So glad we went counterclockwise, sure seems to be the easier way to get to the "saddle" south of Gilpin Lake. A GREAT hike, nice day, just a few sprinkles.

4 months ago

Hiked it today we went counter clockwise. The views when you crest the ridge to see the lake are amazing. I clocked it at 11.6 Miles. I definitely recommend the counter clockwise to enjoy the views of the lakes on your decent. Will do this hike again next time in town.

hiking
4 months ago

Holy cow - this has to be the most gorgeous hike I've done yet in Colorado. It has everything you could ever want in terms of scenery: waterfalls, aspen groves, high alpine lakes, and endless mountain meadows. Counter clockwise is definitely the way to go as others have mentioned, as the incline is a bit more gradual, and the descent to Gilpin lake is absolutely breathtaking. We did this hike over Labor Day weekend - the aspens aren't quite yet turning, but there's plenty of beautiful fall colors on the forest floor to be enjoyed. We took a ton of breaks for lunch, snacks, and pictures, and clocked in at 6.5 hours. Cannot recommend this highly enough!

4 months ago

Beautiful hike! This trail has a little bit of everything (streams, animals, lakes, mountains) and the fall colors are amazing right now. I can only imagine what it looked like with all the wildflowers.

I accidentally went clockwise (left at the dorm) and I enjoyed the trail. The first half up to the lake was gradual and I walked around for a bit before proceeding up the switchbacks. The hike up wasn’t that bad because my legs were warmed up. The view of the lake from up top was amazing. The rest of the hike was downhill. Overall the hike wasn’t hard. It’s a long hike so I think that makes the elevation gain easier. I started at 6 and the trailhead was packed when I came down.

backpacking
4 months ago

Incredible views that are definitely earned! Counterclockwise is the way to go as many others have suggested. Clocked it at 12.2 miles total.

hiking
5 months ago

Do it counterclockwise, so you crest the ridge and get hit with the amazing view!!

hiking
5 months ago

Hiked on August 2. Spectacular scenery at the top. Counterclockwise is the way to do it, getting the hard 6 miles done before a long lunch break at Gilpin Lake. We really enjoyed the diversity of environments encountered on the way up. I used water shoes once on the way up and once just starting the way down. My husband with longer legs jumped rocks across without getting wet. The large log at Mile 2 was slippery and rounded enough that we wiggled across rather than walking. We clocked it at 10.7 miles. We took 7 1/2 hours and lots of photo stops. Great hike.

hiking
5 months ago

We loved this hike, which we did on July 31. The flowers, especially up near the pass, we’re gorgeous. We did it counterclockwise, based on previous reviews. Unlike others, we did not have to use water shoes to cross any streams. The one crossing some people may be referring to is very easily crossed on logs if you go up stream a few feet. The other stream crossing on the single log will get your heart beating, though. Although we had a map on our phone, we never needed it. It seemed to us that the trail was well-marked and easy to follow. We are so glad we did this hike. Highly recommended!

hiking
5 months ago

Absolutely amazing, like always. Fished at Gilpan lake and saw a whole bunch of brookies rising. Do it counter clockwise for the best views of both Gilpan and Gold Creek Lakes.

hiking
5 months ago

Absolutely stunning views! Best views in the Steamboat area. This hike was worth the 6 hours it took us to complete. We only stopped for about 10 minutes at the lake. Make sure you have enough water and pack a lunch. We did the loop counterclockwise and the first half of the trail was a very steep incline. We saw one small water snake by Gold Creek Lake. Like the app says, this is a hard trail but so incredibly worth it! Download the map. You will need it. We got off the trail a few times and had to look at the map

5 months ago

Quintessential Colorado hike! Has everything you need to impress out of town guests; absolutely great! Went counter clockwise (to gold creek lake first) which makes for some dramatic jaw dropping views that you likely wouldn’t get if you went the other way. Would definitely do this hike again as a backpacking trip so I could stay awhile!

hiking
6 months ago

I agree with everything Melissa Hartwig posted. I live in Steamboat Springs and this is one of the best and most beautiful day hikes in our area.
The TH is approximately 60 minutes from town, so plan accordingly, and arrive early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. The hike may take up to 7 hours with breaks, etc.!

hiking
6 months ago

One of the prettiest hikes I have done in the West. Like, epic.

1. Download the trail map before you go. There is one spot in particular where you have to cross the creek and it’s not at all evident via the trail. Using the map saved my butt.
2. Go counter-clockwise. You do not want to miss the view of Gilpin as you come over the pass. (And the approach to Gold Creek Lake is prettier too.)
3. Bring bug spray.
4. There was one creek crossing where I saw no other recourse but to get wet. The others were fine on logs/rocks. The first log was hella fun.
5. My GPS clocked this at 11.7 miles, FYI.

6 months ago

Gorgeous hike, we loved doing it in the counter clockwise direction for the drama of hiking down to Gilpin with a stunning mountain backdrop. Best hike in this area so far

6 months ago

Beautiful hike! Only one stream you actually need to have water shoes for, the other have logs or rocks to cross with. I would recommend you going counterclockwise. you get a nice rest at Gold Creek Lake about a third of the way in, and all your uphill happens just before Lake Gilpin. If you go clockwise, the initial ascent is easier, but right after the lake you have a killer uphill before descending.
A couple snow fields present but clear trails and easily navigated. Beautiful scenery and rivers!
Took me and a friend 7 hours round trip, with about an hour and a half of breaks, both being out of shape! Totally do able.

6 months ago

Epic hike! The few snow fields left are getting smaller and the trail was easy to follow. Loved all the flowers. A few steam crossings.

hiking
7 months ago

a wonderful trail and adventure!

hiking
7 months ago

Wow! Beautiful and rewarding hike. We were unsure if we'd make it reading other recent reviews about the snowfields. We started the loop on the Gold Creek side, and I don't think we'd have made it if we had started in the other direction. There wasn't much snow at all until we got to the second lake (Gilpin). We did lose the trail going around the lake for a little while, but we were able to pull up a map of which direction to head around the lake. We scooted a little bit down the snowfield, but it would have been not as much fun having to trek up that! We did the whole thing in Chaco's which actually worked great because there were several creek crossings. We only saw 3 other hikers the entire time. It felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. Definitely worth it -- gorgeous views, dynamic landscape. It took us almost 5 hours to hike the entire loop including stopping for lunch at GC Lake and spending some time figuring out how to navigate down the snowfield/getting a tad lost after that. It was 12 miles according to my watch.

backpacking
7 months ago

6/16-6/17 Backpacked the loop clockwise, we lost the trail after the climb after Gilpin lake. It’s usually switchbacks, but was covered in snow. Stay left once you reach the top of that climb...we ended up walking in marsh and fallen trees for awhile before we were able to find the trail again, but we veered right a little...our mistake. But, we eventually made it! Also, bring water shoes for creek crossings. I think we were the only ones camping that night out, so it was very peaceful. One of my favorites by far!

7 months ago

We were on a fly fishing/hike to Gold Creek Lake so only did first part of counter-clockwise route. There were 2 stream crossings, one across a log bridge. The hike and lake are beautiful and moderately challenging for us...mostly a steady uphill to lake. We kept a nice pace to be able to enjoy the views but leave plenty of time to fish.

7 months ago

One of the best round these parts

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome hike! We did it 6/2/18 and it was definitely difficult with all the snow but still worth it if you have GPS. There were ~4 river crossings, lots of postholing, and lots of sliding down snowfields. We went counterclockwise and getting to Gold Creek Lake was pretty easy. Then, there was a fairly wide river that we had to take off our shoes to cross (knee deep). After that, it was difficult to follow the trail due to the snow. Climbing up the pass was the most difficult part, again due to the snow, but the view from the top was amazing. We then slid down the snow and lost elevation quickly, using GPS on my phone (would have been very tricky without it). We crossed another wide river, and finally got down to
solid, dry ground again. Beautiful lower trail through Aspen trees and meadows. We saw in the guestbook on our way out that two people encountered a bear!

8 months ago

Absolutely my all time favorite hike. So beautiful. Stop at the clark store and get ice cream after ;) So tranquil.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We hiked this last weekend. The views are spectacular.

hiking
Sunday, August 13, 2017

Great hike, a little busy, but spread out. Hiked it counter-clockwise to avoid traffic. Saw a few bears, views were great.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Did my first solo backpacking trip here in late June. And went counter clockwise. I camped the first like above Gold Creek Lake in a nice meadow. I had had a late start so I took my time. There were three crossings on the way the south side of Gilpin Lake including a intimidating log crossing with all the runoff flowing fast and high beneath.

Day two I peaked the pass to Lake Gilpin. The last thousand vertical feet on both side was snow covered with no signs of a trail, but the trail map I had with topography gave me a pretty good idea where I was going. Once I peaked the view was amazing. Lake still partially frozen. The trail down was hard to see but once the snow gave way to rock underneath the lake it was back to the regular trail. One deep crossing below the lake and then a good hike back to the car.

backpacking
Friday, August 04, 2017

We did this counter clockwise as a two day. Camped at gold creek lake. Wildflowers were beatiful, fish were biting like crazy at gold creek lake, water in gilpin lake was cold but refreshing after going up over the ridge with packs on, heard report of a bear on the gilpin trail but didn't see it.

A few things to note: the forest service sign at the trail head (or at the entrance to the national forest land) will say no campfires allowed, but the wilderness area sign said they were fine. Not sure which is right. You're also not supposed to camp within a quarter mile of either lake. The best campsites I saw otherwise were in the meadow between mile 6 and 7

backpacking
Monday, July 24, 2017

Best views I've ever seen! We camped in a gorgeous valley and saw deer. The lakes were beautiful and icy cold. There was plenty of creek crossings with clear, cold water. The altitude change got to me though...

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