Come backpack the Zirkel Circle with me outside of Steamboat the weekend after labor day weekend! It's my dirty 30 birthday month and I'm craving some Zirkels! I've done both lakes in this hike, but haven't put it together as a loop yet. It passes through Gilpin Lake, Gold Creek Lake, and some incredible meadows and rivers.
The standard loop is 11.2 miles, but I am very seriously thinking of extending it a few miles farther into the Slavonia mining camp, so be prepared for ~15 miles. We will be camping somewhere between 9,500 feet and 10,500 feet in altitude. The trailhead starts around 8,500 feet.
It's hard to find a good description of the hike online, but this site does a pretty good job and it has some decent photos. It claims only 10 miles but every other source I've read, including my hiking book that I will be bringing, says 11.2. Again, we may make it a bit closer to 15 miles. http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/gilpin-lake-loop.htm
Here's the plan:
-Meet at the Wooly Mammoth park-n-ride Friday after work. I'd like to meet around 4:30, but that depends on when everyone can meet. Depending on how many people come, we may be able to make another car load at a later time because I know not everyone can leave early. If that happens, I'll give coordinates for the campsite or we can just meet up in town. The campsite will be along Seedhouse road and will be maybe ~10 minutes from the trailhead.
-Car camp Friday night along Seedhouse road in Steamboat. There will definitely be camping available, so we don't have to worry about hiking through the night, although that's always an option ;-)
Wake up and start hiking the loop. If you are ballsy, take a dip in the lakes ;-)
Finish hiking. If we get done early, make a stop at Strawberry Park Hot Springs on our way out of town. I need to be back to Denver at a decent time Sunday evening because I fly out on Monday for work, so if we do the hot springs, we will have to be on schedule to leave Steamboat around 3.
Directions to the trailhead:
Drive west out of Steamboat Springs on Hwy. 40 approximately 2 miles and turn right on Elk River Road (County Road 129). Follow CR 129 about 18 miles to Seedhouse Road (NFSR 400; also CR 64) and turn right. Continue for 11 miles to the end at the Slavonia trailhead parking area, where the Gilpin Lake trailhead begins.
We will be camping along Seedhouse Road Friday night. I will provide more details on this as it gets closer.
We can grab dinner on the way up there Friday. Bring breakfast for Saturday morning, which doesn't have to be backpackable. For backpacking meals, bring one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and snacks. Bring something for lunch Sunday in case we are hungry before grabbing food in town.
What to Bring:
Bring normal backpacking stuff, including warm gear for cold weather. It is definitely going to start getting chilly up there, so bring beanies, hand/foot warmers, jackets, gloves, you get the picture.
Also bring some type of shoes for water crossings if you don't want to go barefoot. Depending on how high the water level is, we may need to ford a river or two.
Bring your bathing suit, towel, and $15 cash in case we do the hot springs Sunday!
I have a two-person tent, a squeeze filter, and a small jetboil. We can figure out who should bring what as it gets closer.
This is an awesome hike! Let me know if you have any questions!!