Gilpin Lake Loop Trail

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Gilpin Lake Loop Trail

Gilpin Lake Loop Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area extends long and narrow into the northern reaches of the state, and boasts rugged, rocky peaks of the Continental Divide and large forests of pine and aspen. This hike wanders about in these forests and visits a high, lonely lake along the way. The path affords terrific views of Mount Zirkel, the highest point in the area, and takes hikers over the top of a pass for a long and excellent day hike."

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Fitchburg, WI
Explorer | 40 pts
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This is actually the second time I have been up to Gilpin, and I strongly recommend anyone to check it out. The trail guide on this loop is lacking some details, a lot which are seasonal. Be sure to be prepared to take your boots and socks off because you will have to on 4 occurrences. The first is right before you start the major switchbacks to the entrance to the lake. It's nothing major, but it's worth noting that the log set down further down the path should NOT be used. If you fall off, it's fast rapids with icy cold water.

If you plan to actually travel the loop, note that you will have to take the the trail that follows the lake to the left. This guide casually references the "pass" to the other side of the mountain. It is a pass, however, the trail was completely covered with snow, which was an unpleasant surprise. Just follow the footprints up the pass, and you should be fine. We went late enough in the afternoon for the snow to soften, but trecking poles and proper footwear should be utilized. When you get to the top, go towards the left of the pass and you will find the trail. It's a pretty tame hike down to meet up with Gold Creek trail. There are 3 spots where you will have to ford the river again, so be prepared. One of the spots was actually pretty intense, so find a long enough stick to help balance your weight upstream towards the rapids.

Despite the few surprises on the trail, this hike was great. The views from Gilpin are phenomenal, especially from the saddle (or pass). The quasi-tough hike is more than worth the payoff.
Oreland, PA
Adventurer | 311 pts
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We went up the trail along Gilpin creek to Gilpin Lake and retraced our steps. Didn't do the whole loop. A really nice trail, nicely laid out. Climbs gradually the whole way from the trail head. Lots of snowmelt so we just took off shoes and waded across Gilpin creek. Had some trouble following trail still covered with snow approaching lake. Great scenery.

More Gilpin Lake Loop Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

David Day
"This loop hike can be walked in either direction, but if it is being done as a day hike I recommend you walk around the loop in a clockwise direction. That way you will have a better chance to see Gilpin Lake before the usual afternoon clouds roll in; Gilpin Lake is located in an extraordinarily scenic area. In the first few miles the trail passes by several clearings in the forest where a surprisingly large number of tall trees have been uprooted and blown over. The fallen trees are the result of the Routt Divide Blowdown, a freak windstorm in 1997 that still has scientists scratching their heads in amazement. The Routt Divide Blowdown of 1997 was the largest recorded blowdown that has ever occurred in the Rocky Mountains."

Trail Information

Steamboat Springs
Nearby City
2,417 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
6 hours
Late May through October
8,400 feet
Trailhead Elevation
10,828 feet
Top Elevation
Routt National Forest, Mount Zirkel Wilderness
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Zirkel
Local Maps

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