Sleep In The Dirt

Section 21:

Summit Lake Campground to North Lake Trailhead

What We Found

The content below contains general information about Big Agnes staff experience while traveling along the CDT through Colorado in the summer of 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel this route, do so at your own risk. Once you leave Summit Lake Campground, you will be entering the Zirkel Wilderness for the remainder of this section. This area is littered with high alpine lakes and climbable side peaks accompanied by sweeping views that have inspired Routt County residents for years and years.

  • distance
    20.7 miles
  • elevation gain
    3,125 feet
  • elevation loss
    4,949 feet
  • highest point
    11,901 feet
  • wilderness area
    yes
  • percent on trail
    100%

"Section 21 gave us the opportunity to see a lot of the features our gear is named after. Day 1 took us from Buffalo Pass (tent) to Luna lake (sleeping bag) which had a nice sandy beach to rest on before setting up camp. By the end of day 2 we had climbed up over Ethel (sleeping bag) and down the side of Lost Ranger (sleeping bag) to Pristine Lake (sleeping bag). Our last day took us through Burn Ridge (tent) which provided  ample opportunity for forage for berries. The section ended at Seedhouse (tent) road and was a quick drive back to town. After 21 miles, we had successfully wore out the dogs as well as ourselves. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!"

Andy Dittgen, Lead Customer Service Rep, Big Agnes
Learn more about the hike

Our Itinerary

Southern Access Point:

Summit Lake Campground (Buff. Pass Road). Ley Maps CO4

Northern Access Point:

North Lake Trailhead Parking Area. Ley Maps CO3

Wilderness Area:

Yes

What We Experienced:

Plenty of on-trail water and awesome lakes within a half-mile of the trail, with great opportunities for swimming and fishing.

Most of this section runs through high-alpine meadows with gentle climbs and mellow descents.

In late summer and early fall, expect to encounter plenty of wild berries to fuel you along the trail.

Additional Resources: 

Leave No Trace Principles

Guthook Guide – Continental Divide Trail

U.S. Forest Service – Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests

 

Our Route

Ascent:
3,125 feet

Descent:
4,949 feet

Grade per Mile:
390 feet

Pro tips:

The mountains, lakes, streams, and creeks in this area continue to be the testing-grounds for Big Agnes product and have inspired us to become the company we are today.

After descending from North Lake, you will pass through a burn area. It is highly advised you do not camp in this area due to widow-maker danger.

Bring your valid Colorado fishing license to enjoy the plentiful fishing opportunities scattered throughout this section that are easily accessible via the trail.

 

Skills We Needed

• Map Navigation
• LNT Ethics
• Widow-maker Safety

* This site and routes described within contain general information about Big Agnes staff adventures in the backcountry, summer 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check local weather, trail conditions, closures, legal access points, Forest Service, BLM, or National Park rules and regulations, and other risks involved. We hope to inspire responsible backcountry and public land use, but by using our website you agree to use this information at your own risk.