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Colorado hikes

Credit: Deb Stanley

By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com

If you like loop hikes, put the Zirkel Circle on your “to do” list. The 11.2 mile trek near Steamboat Springs features two alpine lakes, scenic meadows, a waterfall and numerous cascades.

The hike starts at the Slavonia Trailhead, about 29 miles from town (directions below). The dirt parking lot has a bathroom and signboards. There’s one trail from the parking lot, but there are more trails along the path.

Just 0.2 miles from the parking lot, hikers come to their first trail split. A sign has an arrow pointing right for Gold Creek Lake (Trail No. 1150) and left for Gilpin Lake (Trail No. 1161). You can hike the loop in either direction.  The Gold Creek side is longer so the elevation gain is more gradual. The Gilpin Lake side is harder, but once you hit the lake, you can see the last ridge you have to climb before it’s all downhill.

The Gilpin Lake side is great in the summer months for wildflowers. In the fall, the aspens put on quite a show. When the trees open up, you’ll enjoy beautiful meadows with views of the peaks in the distance. Gilpin Lake sits at the top of this valley on the right side. As you hike, you may get your feet wet. The trail crosses over several streams. Sometimes there are rocks and logs to help you cross, sometimes there are not. As you can hike, you’ll likely hear a loud river nearby, don’t worry, there are close-up views of the cascades occasionally as you hike toward Gilpin Lake. The trail has lots of ups and downs as it gains about 1,000 feet over that first three miles. As you hike the last mile to the lake, there are three sets of steep switchbacks.

When you come over the ridge to the lake, it will be all be worth it. An open field leads right to the shoreline of Gilpin Lake. The lake sits in a bowl below tree line. The lake’s rocky shoreline is surrounded by trees and peaks. Find a spot in the open field for lunch or find a secluded spot on a rock in the trees.

At the lake, you’ll see the ridge you’re climbing next. That’s 450 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile. It’s steep, but the switchbacks help. And you’ll likely be taking lots of breaks on the way up for photos of Gilpin Lake.

At the top, it’s down a different valley to Gold Creek Lake about 2.7 miles away. Like the first valley, this valley features scenic meadows, cascading creeks and water crossings. There are two water crossings on this side that are a little tough. Take your time to scope out the best way across.

Gold Creek Lake is smaller than Gilpin Lake and while Gilpin was dark blue, Gold Creek Lake is green. It’s an odd shape lake so it’s hard to get a good picture of it, but as you hike around the shoreline, you should find some good spots. Take a break, enjoy the views, then it’s about 3.2 miles back to the trailhead. Don’t worry, it’s not a boring trip out. There is thick forest to hike through and an impressive waterfall in this last stretch.

Details: 11.2 miles RT with an elevation gain of about 2,300 feet.

Directions: From U.S. 40 in Steamboat Springs, drive west through town to Elk River Road (County Road 129) and turn right. Follow CR 129 about 18 miles to Seedhouse Road (also known as NFSR 400/CR 64) and turn right. This is a dirt road that can be rough, but manageable for passenger cars. (Check with the Forest Service for the latest conditions.) Drive 11 miles to the end of the road at the Slavonia trailhead.

For more great hikes in Colorado and the west, click here.

Don’t miss any of my hiking reports, click on the “subscribe” button at the top of this article for an alert each time I publish. And follow me, HikingDebbie on Twitter or DenverHikingExaminer on Facebook.


RANDOM POSTS

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Police, fire and ambulance calls

1:09 a.m. Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called to a report of a bear in the 800 block of Yampa Street. It was scared away with beanbag rounds.

3:33 a.m. Officers were called to a report of a bear that knocked over a resident's fence at a mobile home park in the first block of Anglers Drive.

5:33 a.m. Oak Creek Fire Protection District firefighters were called to help a person having difficulty breathing in the 100 block of Moffat Avenue.

5:42 a.m. Officers were called to a report of graffiti along the Yampa River Core Trail downtown.

8:09 a.m. Officers were called to a report of a person possibly living in a storage unit in the 1600 block of Shield Drive.

8:48 a.m. Officers were called to a report of a person rummaging around a construction site in the 1200 block of Clubhouse Circle.

9:39 a.m. Officers were called to a report of a person living in a bathroom at Fetcher Park. A man was given a written warning.

10:12 a.m. Officers were called to a report of a man loitering in the 400 block of Anglers Drive.

11:17 a.m. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called to help a person who fainted at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

12:02 p.m. Officers were called to a report of a disturbance at a business in the 1800 block of Central Park Drive. A man was reportedly yelling and screaming at customers and employees. When police contacted the man, he said he was upset because the store was accusing him of theft. Reportedly, he was trying to return items with no proof of having purchased them. The 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of harassment and disorderly conduct.

1:03 p.m. Officers were called to a report of theft at a business in the 1400 block of Pine Grove Road. A woman who had previously been suspected of stealing straps from the store had come back to the store. She was issued a summons to appear in court.

1:18 p.m. Officers were called to a report of a suspicious person at a bus stop in the 1400 block of Pine Grove Road. A man had set up shopping carts, a table and was “making himself at home” in the bus shelter. Kids in the area were later scared by the man, and he moved along. The man was later suspected of trying to steal a shopping basket from a nearby business.

2:35 p.m. Steamboat firefighters were called to help a diabetic person in the 1000 block of The Boulevard.

2:48 p.m. West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters were called to help a child who was hit in the neck with a baseball at Hayden Valley Elementary School. The child was checked out and was fine.

3:17 p.m. Officers were called to a report of a car that sped through the busy Rotary Park parking lot and drove along the Yampa River Core Trail. The driver then turned around and was stopped by people on the trail. The car keys were taken out of the car. The 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to notify police and reckless driving. Police believe the man hit a car in the parking lot.

3:52 p.m. Steamboat firefighters were called to help a person with trauma in the first block of Cedar Court.

4:52 p.m. Steamboat firefighters were called to a report of a structure fire in the 500 block of Second Street. A trailer caught fire and was badly damaged. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. No one was home when the fire started, and a neighbor saved three dogs and a cat.

6:27 p.m. Officers were called to a report of a $600 mountain bike stolen in the 2000 block of Ski Time Square Drive.

7:02 p.m. Officers were called to a report of a suspicious incident at 11th Street and Lincoln Avenue. A person saw a man and woman arguing, and the woman jumped out of the car with the car keys. The car was left in the middle of the road and towed.

8:05 p.m. A person reported social media harassment at the police department.

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