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Gilpin Lake

By Deb Stanley,

Have you ever hiked in the Steamboat Springs area? While it may seem far to drive to Steamboat, it’s just three hours from the Denver metro area. The Chamber of Commerce calls Gilpin Lake a “blue alpine lake of magnificent beauty.” I agree. Not only was the lake beautiful, so was the hike there.

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 our destination, Gilpin Lake (Trail No. 1161).

Over the next 3 miles, hikers wind their way through a forest of aspens making this the perfect fall hike. 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. Take it easy, because the trail is about to get a lot harder. There are three sets of closely set switchbacks to the lakeshore. Hikers gain about 850 feet over that final mile or so.

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.

During lunch, you’ll have a decision to make. Hike back 4.5 miles to the trailhead on the Gilpin Lake Trail or continue on the so-called Zirkel Circle loop trail to Gold Creek Lake and back to the trailhead. The loop hike is 11.2 miles. Even if you decide not to do the loop, consider hiking up the trail a short distance to get a better view of Gilpin Lake.

Details: 9 miles RT to the lake with an elevation gain of about 1,850 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.


The Steamboat Springs City Council next week will interview three interim city manager candidates who could lead the city for the next several months.

All three of the candidates are Colorado residents who have extensive experience managing cities in Colorado and around the country.

The interim manager candidates include Steven Golnar, Gary Suiter and John Schneiger.

Schneiger is the former city manager for the cities of Montrose, Fruita and New Port Richey, Florida.

Suiter currently works as a management consultant and had been working with former Steamboat City Manager Deb Hinsvark before her departure on Tuesday.

Suiter previously worked as the city manager of Evans, the town manager of Snowmass Village and the county administrator in Alamosa County.

Golnar is the former city manager of Rawlins, Wyoming, and Livingston, Montana.

He also previously worked as the former city administrator in Kemmerer, Wyoming, and Salida.

The city council selected these three candidates out of a pool of eight because they came highly recommended by Colorado Municipal League Executive Director Sam Mamet.

The council ruled out some unsolicited candidates they had received because they did not have city manager experience.

Council members started off their discussion about hiring an interim city manager by debating whether it was the best idea.

Councilman Scott Ford suggested the city could save some money and see some efficiencies by tapping three members of the city's existing management team to take on the interim role together.

Hinsvark and Anne Small, the city's director of general services, recommended the city instead bring in an interim city manager.

Small said no one on the current management team wanted to take on the role and step away from their current jobs.

The council agreed it would be best to bring in an interim manager from outside of City Hall.

Small will serve as acting city manager until an interim manager is hired.

The interim manager would serve until a new city council majority, which will be seated in November, hires a permanent city manager.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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