Rusty and I and started are day early in Steamboat on October 20 2012. Heading North out of Steamboat on county road 129 to Seedhouse Road. We arrived to the Slavonia Trailhead (8,700') at 8:00 a.m, and we started our hike around 8:15 a.m. With unseasonably nice weather this year we thought that there wouldn't be much snow to deal with late in October.There are two different trails to access Mt. Zirkel we took the shorter route up Gold Creek Lake Trail. The other route is Gilpin Lake Trail but it adds another mile. Heading up Gold Cr lake Tr there is a log crossing about 1.5 up the trail. There is no bridge.
Gold Creek Crossing
After the log crossing you start to gain a good amount of elevation through the woods there are about four switchbacks that will take you within 1/4 mile of Gold Creek lake. We took a minute at the lake and enjoyed the warm October weather.
Gold Creek Lake
After the lake there is a small creek crossing thats is easy to navigate. There are usually a couple down trees to cross over the creek. The next 1.3 miles is along the creek that opens up into the Park Range with views of the Continental Divide and Ute Pass.
Rusty and I with Ute Pass and the Divide behind us
The trail now connects back up with the Gilpin lake Tr and Red Dirt Pass Trail. We headed North on Red Dirt Pass Trail enjoying the views of the Continental Divide to are east and the Front Range to are West. We passed the Slavonia Mine to our West and kept going. You can see the Slavonia Mine better on your way back down trail. As we passed the Slavonia Mine the temperature started to drop and the wind started to howl.
The next 2.2 miles up to Red Dirt Pass was enjoyable but the winds increased and so did the snow on the trail.
Red Dirt Pass We stopped and enjoyed some lunch behind some trees before hiking up Red Dirt Pass. The wind gusts were 40 mph and increasing while we ate. We continued up Red Dirt Pass with 40 to 50 mph gusts. Throwing us around like rag dolls.
Rusty just above the Red Dirt Pass saddle
The final 1.2 miles to the summit of Mt. Zirkel were brutal the winds punished us the whole way. The snow increased to about 3 to 4 inches in spots and we started to get wet. We pushed on and enjoyed the awesome views of Wyoming and Colorado.
View of Gilpin Lake
From the summit looking toward Flattop Mountain and Red Dirt Pass
Rusty pushing hard to the summit
The final ascent was a good scramble on snow covered rocks. The wind was pushing us all over the place we reached the summit, (12,180') at 1:45 p.m. We hung out at the top for 10 minutes and enjoyed the view.
The summit of Mt. Zirkel looking west toward Big Agnes
Big Agnes The 50mph gusts were so strong we were lucky to keep our feet planted on the summit.
The hike back down was windy! The weather was great if you can endure the heavy wind. We had a spruce tree fall just to the side of us. We cruised down the trail the same way we came up. We got back to the car at 6 p.m. The 16 mile hike with 3,500 vertical feet is a endurance hike that is not easy.This hike is worth the views and lack of people. North Routt is a gem!!