#205 UN 13577

Quadrangle › Blanca Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 36' 02.97", W 105° 29' 35.88" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A relatively easy summit that can be completed as a day hike from the Zapata Falls TH or add in Twin Peaks, UN13,660 and California Peak for a two or three day backpack and enjoy a remote, Sangre de Cristo valley. As a day hike, UN13,660 and California Peaks could still be completed along with UN13,577.

SW Basin and West Ridge Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From South Zapata Creek: 17.6 mi / 4,600'
RT From Campsite @ 11,360: 8 mi / 2,600'
  • Trailhead
    • South Zapata Creek Trailhead

      Directions: From Highway 160, about 5 miles west of Blanca, turn north on Highway 150 and travel about 10.5 miles to BLM road 5415; turn east and travel another 2.7 miles to the trailhead.

      To reach the road to the trail from the Great Sand Dunes National Park, travel about 7 miles southwest on Highway 150

      The South Zapata trail is 4.8 miles long. It begins at BLM Road 5415 (the Zapata Falls road) and ends at South Zapata Lake.

      Hike one-half mile from the trailhead to Zapata Creek, wade upstream into the narrow cave to view the falls. The 30 foot high waterfall cascades within a narrow chasim. Watch for falling rocks. The water is swift and deep in early summer.

      The trail proceeds from the waterfall up South Zapata Creek to South Zapata Lake. The trail is steep in many places.About 2.25 miles up the trail, North Fork South Zapata Creek Trail #868 begins.

      The trail is open for the following uses: Horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking.


       There is a designated National Forest campground at the trail head. Fee required.

    • From South Zapata Creek TH via Campsite @ 11,360

      Be sure and visit Zapata Falls either before beginning your hike or after completing it. Near the trail beginning it will cross S. Zapata Ck. In 1995, when we visited here, there was no way to cross except on a fallen tree, suspended up to 15' above the creek or wade across. The trail then climbed steeply, gaining a small ridge which it followed for a while. The trail then continues contouring up the valley on the east side, crossing below some cliffs and two minor drainages. At about 11,360, the trail crossed to the other side of the creek. There was a nice, primitive campsite near here, if packing in, or continue on to Zapata Lake. Trail is mostly forested until about 3/4 mile below the lake.


      Some primitive sites as mentioned before in the upper basin. There's not any good camping above the lake.

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    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info SW Basin and West Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1995

    Note: This route description includes a trip over UN13,660.

    At South Zapata Lake, walk up an embankment on the east side covered with tundra  and head into the basin SE of the lake on tundra, rock and snow earlier season. Swing gradually east then NE and follow a shallow couloir at about 12,600 feet to the ridge above. Most of this route will be over large, broken, but fairly stable rock. Intersect the ridgeline and head north over UN13,660, walking along a narrow crest with spectacular views on either side.

    From the summit of UN13,660, head east along the ridge to UN13,577. Along the 400 foot drop, you'll encounter large, broken rock fragments that will slow your progress. Once at the saddle, the ascent will come easily on mostly smaller, broken rock.

    If contemplating a hike over to California Peak, the connecting ridge north will go easily with one unranked, unnamed sub-summit along the way.

    For descent, return to UN13,660, walk south along the ridge for a short distance and choose a couloir that drops back down to Zapata Lake. If filled with snow, this can be a very rapid descent. If not, it will be more of n unstable, talus descent.

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