Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

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

Length 10.3 mi Elevation gain 2,463 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Bugs

Scramble

Snow

Waypoints (16)
  • 1

    Gilpin & Gold Creek

    40.78436, -106.72140

  • 2

    Trailhead

    40.78321, -106.72293

  • 3

    Gilpin & Mica Basin

    40.79227, -106.70189

  • 4

    Mica Creek

    40.79479, -106.69885

  • 5

    Gilpin Creek

    40.80776, -106.67999

  • 6

    Gilpin Lake

    40.80231, -106.66955

  • 7

    Pass

    40.79678, -106.66967

  • 8

    Stream

    40.79223, -106.66662

  • 9

    Gilpin & Gold Creek

    40.78981, -106.66321

  • 10

    Stream

    40.78881, -106.66452

  • 11

    Stream

    40.78636, -106.66919

  • 12

    Stream

    40.78506, -106.67587

  • 13

    Wyoming Pass & Gold Creek

    40.78432, -106.67695

  • 14

    Gold Creek Lake

    40.78132, -106.68050

  • 15

    Bridge

    40.77884, -106.69439

  • 16

    Falls

    40.77755, -106.69823

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (190)
Photos (467)
Recordings (108)
Completed (348)
Vance Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
HikingIcyMuddy

Fantastic hike! Wife and I went a couple of weeks ago and experienced sunshine, rain, sleet, and snow. Be prepared and back layers. Good amount of snow.

Kim Venuta
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 08 2020
HikingIcySnow

This is an amazing hike! Not for the faint of heart! We hiked this summer of 2019 in late July. The water was still high so we had to cross river beds that were running pretty hard. If you have water shoes I would recommend packing them along. We also encountered snow at the top. Really fun to slide down. This hike took us almost 7 hours as we had to hike thru snow and a hail storm the last 2 miles down. I would advise starting early in the day to avoid storms. Our GPS also had the hike at over 11 miles. Tough but the views were SO worth it!!!

Alex B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

I took the loop clockwise. Was very pleasant. Several log “bridges” to cross but a nice day hike for me. Saw several backpackers.

Jen McDevitt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingBugsSnow

Great trail! We went counter clockwise to get better views of Gilpin Lake! River crossings weren’t bad for adults and dogs. Had to glissade a bit at the pass but wasn’t too steep so it was safe to do. Definitely a tough hike for new backpackers but the views made it worth it. I clocked it at 11.4 miles round trip.

Rachel Child
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingBugsMuddySnow

Went backpacking 7/2-7/4 with a 9, 13, and 15-year-old. - Went counterclockwise for the more gradual ascent. - All the river crossings are doable without getting wet. I only waded through one that was 18-inches deep but some people crossed on a log higher up. - Mosquitoes were plentiful, especially at dusk and dawn. Sawyer bug spray and lotion worked awesome. - Snow was present from the saddle to Gilpin lake, but not as much as I thought would be there. - Our trekking poles were extremely helpful for river crossings and trekking through snow. - Most of the trails are dry, but there are wet/muddy spots, especially on the Gilpin trail. - The wildflowers are beautiful right now! We love the Zirkel wilderness!!!

Jen Fagen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 04 2020
Hiking

LOVED this trail. Definitely go counterclockwise! Take Gold Creek Lake trail and then when you get about 5 miles in there is a split off, take Glipin Lake trail to the left and up! This is such a beautiful and challenging trail. I enjoyed the adventure of it. Many rushing river crossings with logs to cross. Some of the logs are narrow and slippery. If you don’t have great balance consider bringing river shoes to cross and a small towel/socks. There was a fun part of sliding down the mountain on your butt to get to Glipin Lake. You would only do this if you go counterclockwise. (And as hot as it’s been not sure how long the snow will remain) Otherwise you will be hiking up the snow. My least favorite part was the areas that still had snow. I was slipping a lot. So maybe poles? There were people by the lake in hammocks. That was a great idea. Bring lots of water/at least 3L, bug spray, and plan for about 11.6 miles not 10.3. Enjoy this gorgeous place! I’ll post my pics.

Desi K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
HikingSnow

Great but challenging hike. Going counter clockwise, the first stream crossing was a little nervewracking since its just a log over probably 20-30 feet of rushing water. The next ones were more manageable and usually had the option to wade across if you take your shoes off. Right before Gilpin lake, the snow is serious. Finding the trail is kind of hard but it goes down to the right. We ended up glissading down to parallel with the trail and walked the rest of the way. Fun, but not for the faint of heart.

Abe Rahmanizadeh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingGreat!MuddySnow

Hiked this on 6/27 and it was as great as ever! All streams are easily passable, the Gilpin pass section still has snow and you can safely either glissade down or hike down. Once you've gone down where there are typically switch backs towards the lake you have to traverse across to start making your way down towards the lake. There is some snow left but the trail is clear enough that it does not feel sketchy at all. Lake is freezing cold but we recommend at least dipping your feet in for a nice refresh! Garmin & Strava GPS clocked 12 miles and 2,575ft of elevation

Charlie Babcock
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingFloodedIcyMuddyRockyScrambleSnow

Hiked 6/25/2020 with my hiking partner. Beautiful hike! Was referred to this hike from the staff at Cafe Diva in Steamboat Springs (easily best top 3 meals of my life!) Luckily, the hike matched the meal :) ! The app suggests 10.3 miles; however, I clocked 10.8 miles. My friend and I were committed to complete the loop. We chose to traverse the loop counterclockwise. At 4.25-4.5 miles until we encountered Gilpin lake. We ran in to a group of 4 people with 4 dogs and took some group photos. They had just just come over the pass and gave some great insight traversing the pass and we pressed onward. 1 miles took us about 50 minutes, just 6/10 of a mile was approximately 810 ft elevation. Cresting the ridgeline was both challenging and stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately, there was no time to revel in the beauty; but fear not, a copious number of pictures were taken. ;) On the descent approximately 3/4 miles down we met a family of 4 who were traversing the circle clockwise. We exchanged good stories, trail information, and encouragement and kept moving. Honestly, we continued to meet kind & helpful people the entire trail. There were several river crossing. I would guess 5 to be challenging. In the last 5 miles, around 3:30p, weather looked to be moving in so we chose to start walk/jog the rest of the trail. It was both fun and tiring. We finished in 5h 34m. Overall, this was a great trail and would highly recommend! No matter what time of year I would suggest microspikes, a good sunhat, water filtration, and plenty of snacks. I had a 2L and ran out at mile 9. I always carry water filtration and luckily this trail has an ample source to refill your water supply. Water shoes and/ or 2 changes of socks would also be beneficial. Trekking poles is also a strong suggestion as traversing rivers is much easier with poles. In short, this was a beautiful trail. And with great people and beautiful weather, it was a great day and a great hike. It really is a good life! :)

Mark Dawson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 26 2020
Hiking

Completed full loop counterclockwise yesterday 6-25. Only way to find trail at upper elevation is from prior snow footprint tracks. Passable over top before Gilpin lake, but treacherous decent down solid snow slope from top of saddle to lake, and all the way around lake. Not to sound alarmist, but a slip could be fatal here if fall is not quickly arrested. But quite a thrill! Beautiful hike.

Lucia G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jun 23 2020
Backpacking

Lots of snow and river/stream crossings but all passable if you are up for wearing sandals or getting a bit wet. Still lots of snow fields but packed and easy to walk or slide on without post holing. Still ice on Gilpin lake. The loop is open and getting busy, but not too many campers last weekend- great 2 night trip.

Dan Mallett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 12 2020
HikingSnow

Loved this trail. Beautiful Mountain Views and wild flowers. We hiked the loop counter clockwise past gold lake. Still very snow covered past Gold lake to Gilpin Lake. Made route rinding difficult but the GPS helped keep us on trail. We had to glissade down from Gilpin pass. Gilpin lake was still frozen. Overall loved the hike. We didn’t realize how much snow we were in for but it made for a great adventure. Look forward to trying it again later in the summer.

View Dan's Recording
Jania Arcia-Ramos
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jun 10 2020
HikingRockySnow

Attempted this hike on 6/10/20. We started counterclockwise and enjoyed beautiful wild flowers and a moderate incline. Made it up to Gold Creek Lake but did not go beyond it because multiple people that we met commented that it was snowed out and difficult to follow the trail up to Gilpin. Gold Creek Lake itself was impressive and worth the hike up there! Some fish (possibly trout) in the lake! Of note, there are two river crossings that are difficult (not for the faint of heart) without a set bridge (literally crossed on some fallen tree stumps). Would definitely rate as difficult because of the two crossings and the elevation gain.

Karen Talavera
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Oct 14 2019
HikingMuddySnow

This Florida gal got stupidly ambitious and hiked the full loop October 12, 2019. About 2/3 of the trail was snow covered but visible. As others have said, the area offers some of the most beautiful scenery and pristine wilderness around and even after the first snow of the season that was true. Based on other hiker recommendations I started on Gold Creek trail (went counter clockwise) and was glad I did because getting up and over the pass in the snow was a bit of an adventure; I lost the trail for a while. Started at 11am, stopped for lunch half way at the meadow below Ute pass for about 20 min, and finished just under 7 hours later with about half an hour of sunlight to spare (which is cutting it too close tbh). The snow really slowed me down but made it a unique experience. Too many creek crossings to recall - I counted at least 5 significant ones - some of them partially iced over. I punched a foot through ice into the creek on one crossing and had to dry out/change socks. So total hike time probably more like 6.25 hours. I saw only 7 people total the whole time, a beaver dam, and mule deer. If you’re considering doing this trail before next snowfall, pick a sunny windless day (which I did - got lucky), start at 9am, and do it soon; watch out for hunters too. Bring sticks unless you’re one of the 3 marathoner trail runners who sped by me (seriously!) Overall, this was probably the most remote, challenging solo hike I’ve ever done but totally worth it! I’m 54, an experienced trekker, and in above average shape for my age plus do pretty well at altitude. This hike is NOT for novices, and if you go it alone, come well prepared and make sure people know where you are.

Greg Bland
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Oct 13 2019
Hiking

Gorgeous trail! We went 10/4/19 and colors were gorgeous. Hiked to Gold Lake (1st lake) counter clockwise & back. About 6-7 miles RT. Fun hike with a lot of stream views, waterfalls & trees. Tricky crossing one stream must use fallen log. Good incline. Other hikers on trail but not crowded. Plenty of parking if there by 10a. 40+ mins from Steamboat but worth the drive. Last 5 miles are dirt road & bumpy. Not for sedans. Will do again and want to do full loop with more time. Highly recommend! Stop at general store in near Clark on way back to SB. Have all types drinks & great cafe food.

Lia Plankenhorn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 05 2019
Hiking

This is an amazing, utterly beautiful trail with so many incredible features. The aspens are aglow right now. The landscape is very diverse and you are rewarded with awesome views of the surrounding high mountains, you can see Mount Zirkel and Big Agnes and part of the continental divide. Definitely not an easy hike, would recommend counterclockwise so you get the breathtaking view of Gilpin Lake from above. Start relatively early, but no need to be there at the crack of dawn. Pack lots of snacks, water, and layers, as parts of the trail is in shadow, but sunscreen too for the sunny bits. Hiking the Zirkel Circle was so much fun!

Showing results 1 - 16 of 190