North Lake to Buffalo Pass, Mt Zirkel Wilderness, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest

Explore the North Lake to Buffalo Pass section in the spectacular Mount Zirkel Wilderness, which stretches along the Continental Divide for 36 miles in northern Colorado. Mt Zirkel Wilderness contains over 70 lakes  and 15 peaks over 12,00 feet in elevation.Start this 21-mile section at North Lake Trailhead and venture into expansive valleys, high alpine meadows, and beautiful glaciated lakes. This corridor of the Divide is unsurpassed, providing incredible vistas, and scenery often comprised of stunted spruce trees, known as Krumholtz. End the hike at 10,180 ft atop Buffalo Pass amidst views of the Medicine Bow Mountains. A summer hike or mountain bike ride on Buffalo Pass is ideal, as spring runoff from the deep winter snow pack provides a bounty of colorful alpine wildflowers. Contact:CDTC at 1-720-340-CDTC (2382) orr the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest’s Hahns Peak 970-879-1870or Parks Ranger District 970-723-8204.

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 21 miles, one-way.

Family Friendly Option: Families may want to experience this segment from Buffalo Pass Trailhead. Go back towards Summit Lake Campground and head towards North Lake on the CDT. After heading north for three miles on the CDT you can veer off on the Newcomb Creek Trail and hike another mile or so to beautiful Round Mountain Lake for a 7 mile round trip adventure.

Directions: North Lake TH: Take US 40 north through the town of Steamboat Springs. At the edge of town, turn right on County Road 129 and head north for 17.7 miles to Seedhouse Road (County Road 64). Turn right and follow Seedhouse Road for almost 10 miles to Forest Route 443 (North Lake Road). Turn right and drive 5 miles to the end of the road (the last mile is bumpy but traversable). The CDT starts at the south end of the parking area. Buffalo Pass TH: From US-40 in Steamboat Springs, drive north on Seventh Street, turn right onto Missouri Avenue. Follow the road for 2 miles onto County Road 38. Drive 11 miles to the summit of Buffalo Pass. Follow a curve to the right away from Summit Lake Campground and go right at the intersection towards Fish Creek Reservoir. You will see a parking lot on the left and the CDT climbs from the south end of the parking lot.

Maps USGS 7.5 Quadrangles: Mount Zirkel, Buffalo Pass, Mount Ethel, USDA Forest Service: Routt National Forest, Trails Illustrated 116 and 117.

Other Information: Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest –