Routt County Highpoint Trip Report

Mount Zirkel (12,180 ft)

Date: September 7-8, 2004
Author: Layne Bracy

route from Slavonia trailhead (about 8,400 ft)

We hiked in on a Tuesday afternoon on the Gold Creek Trail. The route passes a small but pretty waterfall at 1.5 miles and reaches Gold Creek Lake at 2.8 miles. We saw a group of ruffed grouse near the trail. At about mile 4.9 (10,080 feet), we found a small knoll to the right of the trail which made for an excellent campsite. We had nice views of the valley and over the next day heard what we think were elk bugling, though we didn't see any.

The hike took us about 2.5 hours, allowing plenty of time to relax. For dinner, we had Mountain House turkey tetrazini and blueberry cheesecake - both decent, albeit expensive, backpacking fare.

The next day also had nice weather. We started hiking at 6:40 am following the Gold Creek Trail, then the Red Dirt Pass Trail to the pass at 11,540 feet, all class 1 with pleasant trail. We then turned left, ascended a steep grassy slope and saw Zirkel with its three summit knobs, a flat 3/4 mile hike away. There are steep drops around this summit ridge but it is not too narrow and stays class 2 to the summit, which we reached at 8:40 am. Great views all around and we saw no other hikers above Gold Creek Lake.

This can be done as a day hike but made for a great backpack experience.

Hike statistics: 8.7 miles one-way, class 1-2.
Reference: Covill/Mitchler, "Hiking Colorado's Summits".