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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests > Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District

Quick Facts

Gilpin Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,480 Feet (2643.4 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,360 Feet (423.9 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 9,840 Feet (3067.3 Meters) at the saddle between Gilpin and Gold Creeks
Length, One-way: 6.1 Miles (10.17 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Routt National Forest Map
TI Topo Maps: #116 Hahns Peak, Steamboat Lake; No Mt Zirkel Wilderness
Trail Number: 1161
Usage: Very Heavy
USGS Maps: Mt Zirkel

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Gilpin Lake, Mount Zirkel Wilderness
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Gilpin Lake, Mount Zirkel Wilderness

This area was affected by a large tree blowdown. Contact the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District for current conditions.

Gilpin Lake, named for Governor William Gilpin, is one of the most popular destinations within the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. It offers a 29 acre, deep, blue alpine lake of magnificent beauty and views of the near by Sawtooth Range. Heavily shaded, the trail winds through thick forests of conifer trees, wildflower meadows and avalanche paths following Gilpin creek most of the way up to the lake. Due to the popularity and easy accessibility of this trail, this area receives some of the highest use of any area in this wilderness. This trail is not suggested if you are seeking solitude. Overuse and abuse have led to implementing special regulations in hopes for revegetation. Regulations prohibit camping within 1/4 mile of the lake. Please camp elsewhere using low impact techniques or visit Gilpin Lake on day hikes.

PLEASE NOTE: Gilpin, Gold Creek, and Three Island Lake trails are the most heavily used areas on the district. If seeking solitude, please refer to trails less heavily used.

NARRATIVE: Once you have started up the trail, it will quickly fork; stay left to continue towards Gilpin Lake. Continuing with the 1161 trail, you will enter the Mount Zirkel Wilderness after 1.6 miles (from the trailhead). Once the lake is reached, the trail continues up and over the saddle dropping down to connect with the Gold Creek Lake Trail #1150. If you continue right (downhill) on the 1150 this will take you back to the Slavonia Trailhead, completing a 9 mile loop.


As humans, we must minimize our impacts to help preserve this resource for present and future generations.

Directions from Steamboat Springs: Take HWY 40 west of town and turn right on to County Road 129. Travel north about 18 miles to the Seedhouse Road (Forest Road 400; also County Road 64) and turn right. Continue for about 10 miles to parking.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Fall (NOTE: Accessibility depends on snow depth and weather.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Time of Day: 10am
Length of Time: 4hrs
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I and my two dogs hiked a loop from Gilpin to Gold Creek and back out. The whole loop took us about 4 hours at a fairly decent clip. What a gorgeous first stop - Gilpin lake is absolutely beautiful! The forest department stocks it with trout every couple of years and the fish were jumping. Granted, it was just about to start raining. The pass that takes you from Gilpin to Gold Creek is a bit strenuous and there was still snow covering parts of the switchbacks, but the views definitely make up for it. Gold Creek was also quite nice (not near as cool as Gilpin). Then, the rain started coming down and the dogs and I high-tailed it back to the car.
Conditions: On the loop, we crossed four small rivers. None of them were too hairy. There was some snow on the pass leaving Gilpin Lake. Bugs weren't bad and we got quite the shower from Gold Creek to the trailhead.
Water Availability: There was plenty of water available.
Recommended Clothing: Bring rain gear and shoes that can be worn through rivers.
Suggested Accessories: If you enjoy fishing, definitely bring your pole. You may want to check with the forest department and see if it has been stocked first.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Gilpin Lake and connecting trails.
ICON Hiking & Walking Gilpin Lake and connecting trails.
ICON Viewing Scenery Gilpin Lake and surrounding area.

Related Activities
Gold Creek Lake Trail - This trail leads from the Slavonia Trailhead north of Steamboat Springs, up Gold Creek to Gold Creek Lake. The trail can then link to either the Wyoming Trail of Gilpin Lake Trail.

Mica Basin Trail - This area was affected by a large tree blowdown. Contact the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District for current conditions. This trail leads from the Slavonia area, north of Steamboat Springs, up to Mica Basin and Mica Lake. The trailhead is reached from the Gilpin Lake Trail, #1161.

Red Dirt Pass Trail - This trail north of Steamboat Springs, in the Mt Zirkel area, leads from the Gold Creek Lake Trail #1150, to Red Dirt Pass. A hiker can reach the top of Mt Zirkel from this trail.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District, 925 Weiss Drive , Steamboat Springs, CO, 80487, Phone: 970-879-1870, Fax: 970-879-2147


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