Peak(s):  Mt. Zirkel - 12,180 feet
Date Posted:  11/11/2012
Date Climbed:   10/20/2012
Author:  climbroutt
 Mt. Zirkel- Red Dirt Pass  

Rusty and I and started are day early in Steamboat on October 20 2012. Heading North out of Steamboat on county road 129 to Seedhouse Road. We arrived to the Slavonia Trailhead (8,700') at 8:00 a.m, and we started our hike around 8:15 a.m. With unseasonably nice weather this year we thought that there wouldn't be much snow to deal with late in October.There are two different trails to access Mt. Zirkel we took the shorter route up Gold Creek Lake Trail. The other route is Gilpin Lake Trail but it adds another mile. Heading up Gold Cr lake Tr there is a log crossing about 1.5 up the trail. There is no bridge. Image
Gold Creek Crossing

After the log crossing you start to gain a good amount of elevation through the woods there are about four switchbacks that will take you within 1/4 mile of Gold Creek lake. We took a minute at the lake and enjoyed the warm October weather. Image
Gold Creek Lake

After the lake there is a small creek crossing thats is easy to navigate. There are usually a couple down trees to cross over the creek. The next 1.3 miles is along the creek that opens up into the Park Range with views of the Continental Divide and Ute Pass.Image
Rusty and I with Ute Pass and the Divide behind us

The trail now connects back up with the Gilpin lake Tr and Red Dirt Pass Trail. We headed North on Red Dirt Pass Trail enjoying the views of the Continental Divide to are east and the Front Range to are West. We passed the Slavonia Mine to our West and kept going. You can see the Slavonia Mine better on your way back down trail. As we passed the Slavonia Mine the temperature started to drop and the wind started to howl. Image
Continental Divide
Front Range

The next 2.2 miles up to Red Dirt Pass was enjoyable but the winds increased and so did the snow on the trail. Image
Red Dirt Pass
We stopped and enjoyed some lunch behind some trees before hiking up Red Dirt Pass. The wind gusts were 40 mph and increasing while we ate. We continued up Red Dirt Pass with 40 to 50 mph gusts. Throwing us around like rag dolls.Image
Rusty just above the Red Dirt Pass saddle

The final 1.2 miles to the summit of Mt. Zirkel were brutal the winds punished us the whole way. The snow increased to about 3 to 4 inches in spots and we started to get wet. We pushed on and enjoyed the awesome views of Wyoming and Colorado.Image
Mt. Zirkel
View of Gilpin Lake
From the summit looking toward Flattop Mountain and Red Dirt Pass
Rusty pushing hard to the summit

The final ascent was a good scramble on snow covered rocks. The wind was pushing us all over the place we reached the summit, (12,180') at 1:45 p.m. We hung out at the top for 10 minutes and enjoyed the view.Image
The summit of Mt. Zirkel looking west toward Big Agnes
Big Agnes
The 50mph gusts were so strong we were lucky to keep our feet planted on the summit.

The hike back down was windy! The weather was great if you can endure the heavy wind. We had a spruce tree fall just to the side of us. We cruised down the trail the same way we came up. We got back to the car at 6 p.m. The 16 mile hike with 3,500 vertical feet is a endurance hike that is not easy.This hike is worth the views and lack of people. North Routt is a gem!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

I see where
11/12/2012 15:21
Big Agnes gets all the inspiration for the naming of its pads, bags , tents and company.

Very cool area, thanks for the TR, don't see too many Zirkel Wilderness around here.


11/13/2012 00:10
for the trip report. The wife and I did the Zirkel Circle on our recent anniversary. There was quite a bit of snow on the pass between Gilpin Lake and Gold Creek Lake. We had great weather and enjoyed being the only ones on the trail that day.

Ridge runner

Enjoyed the report
11/13/2012 19:55
I've been to the Rawah Wilderness/Walden Sand Dunes a couple times now and I've looked longingly west towards Routt National Forest. Looks like a great place for some camping, hiking, and exploring. Thanks for posting on a different area of the state. Nice job!


Thanks for the TR!
07/08/2013 00:03
Zirkel's back on my radar and I appreciate the info.

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