South Zapata Lake

South Zapata Lake, Mosca: Address, South Zapata Lake Reviews: 4.5/5

South Zapata Lake

9 reviews
Very good

Abilene, TX54 contributions
Challenging Hike with Beautiful Scenery: Respect It
Jun 2018 • Couples
What a beautiful hike with the dramatic changes in elevation and the spectacular alpine views of the lake! This hike was certainly a highlight of our visit to the area. At the same time, the generally steep incline and the elevation got to these two Texans born during the Kennedy-Johnson administrations. We took our time and spent 10.5 hours on the hike. Be sure to bring adequate water and food for this day trip, and be prepared to cross the creek three times, which may well involve wading through it. None of this is bad; just be prepared. We met a fellow in his 20's from Boston on the trail who, though being an experienced hiker, was not yet acclimated to the elevation and was struggling. If you are not from an area with high elevation, be sure to adjust for a day or so before attempting this memorable hike.
Written June 7, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Niagara Falls, Canada51 contributions
Beautiful views
Jul 2017 • Couples
As a "flatlander" coming from sea level this hike nearly killed me, but it was so worth it. I recommend (unlike what I did) waiting a couple of days to acclimatise to the altitude if you arent used to it. However, after a long and steady climb up and water a couple of times the view is spectacular. Definitely worth it, despite the altitude sickness.
Written July 19, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bisbee, AZ615 contributions
Uphill both the snow ;)
Jun 2017 • Couples
Just kidding; we did this hike in June, and although we did see a good amount of snow, it was no trouble. The footing in some areas, though, is dicey; I'd imagine sprained ankles occur with some frequency. And you have to be prepared for the elevation change; our GPS track said we climbed 3,200 feet in the almost nine hours it took us to saunter from the Zapata Falls campground up to the lakes (there are more than one) and back. I hope anyone reading this review gives this hike the respect it deserves; wouldn't want to scare anyone, but better safe than sorry. On the plus side: it was a great workout, plus we saw pika, marmots, and an alpine ptarmigan (lifer) up at lake level.
Written June 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Colorado Springs, CO90 contributions
Didn't hike to the Lake, but did hike to Zapata Falls
Aug 2016 • Couples
We definitely wanted to check out Zapata Falls on our way out after visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park. The drive to the falls is very rocky, so you have to drive slowly; but it was worth the drive! I think it was only about a 1-1/2 mile hike to the falls & we thoroughly enjoyed it. You could hear the falls before you saw them. It was very beautiful and there were benches nearby if you wanted to sit & listen to nature. I would highly recommend making this a stop as you are heading to the Dunes or heading out.
Written September 2, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

McCook, NE3 contributions
Fascinating but frustrating
Jun 2016 • Family
This is one of the most beautiful hikes my family and I have ever done, but extremely uphill if you are flatlanders like we are! There's a lot of uphill on the way there, almost 3,000 feet net. This time of year, the trail, especially when you're above treeline and past the fourth creek crossing is difficult to find because of snow and no visible cairns (trail markers). According to my gps, we hiked 5.4 miles from the parking lot to where we stopped in the middle of a large talus field and still didn't make it to the lake...maybe it was because the trail was not well marked. So that is 4.9 miles past the sign at the fork that says 4 miles to the lake. Another hiker did make it to the lake he said, but this time of year, because the snow hasn't melted enough, was just a pond. I would recommend going later in the summer. We did see multiple hummingbirds, stellar's jays and pika. Depending on your conditioning, I would plan for a 7-10 hour day there and back.
Written June 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lori B
Lyons, Michigan, Usa81 contributions
Rough but worth it.
May 2016 • Couples
We didn't make all the way to the lake. We did make it to the falls. The road is terrible! The little walk through the water was very cold, but the falls were so cool!
Written May 10, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mairead K
Metro Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN48 contributions
Tough Hike
Sep 2015
I completely agree with HomeAgain72' review, " a challenging hike but worth it". My husband and I set off on this hike completely unaware of the fact that the way to Zapata Lake is almost entirely uphill, steep uphill at that. Occasionally the illusion of an easy hike occurs when you walk through a gorgeous meadow, but the meadows are short and then it is uphill again. The sign at the bottom on the trail head states 4 miles, but it is more like 4.6 / 5 (one way!), our stubbornness kept us going! :-) So with tired legs we reached the small but of course pretty lake and then with some weather rolling in we didn't hang around and made the descent, which was equally tough because of the steep grade and loose shale.
The trail really does have it all if you are prepared, shade, meadows, a really great workout. Just be prepared, my one camel pack pouch of water did not last the whole trip, and one snack bar was just not quite enough. Walking poles would also be very useful on this hike. Really glad I made the hike though, even though my feet were throbbing at the end. It took us almost 6 hours there and back.
Written September 8, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Aurora, NE11 contributions
Challenging, but worth it
Jul 2015 • Family
Trail reviews will tell you that this is a 4.6 mile long trail with 2800 feet elevation gain. Before you start out, you should know that is net gain; this trail covers three hillsides, so there is a substantial amount of up-and-down as well as the climb to the alpine meadow at the top. It's also tricky footing for much of the trail, with loose rocks on steep slopes that make for careful hiking both up and down, and you're starting at 9000 feet elevation, so the steep hike is no easy stroll for flat-landers like us.

That said, this is a trail that truly "has it all." You will start out in pine forrest with terrific views of the valley below, climb past abandoned cabins, make half a dozen stream crossings, shinny over and under fallen trees, and come out into a long meadow with a small glacial lake where the curious marmots are your only company. There is dappled shade much of the way, so even on a warmish day, it's pretty comfortable. We have a long list of hikes under our belts all across the state, but this is one of the prettiest hikes we have done.

Once we were past the boisterous crowd at Zapata Falls, we had the trail to ourselves. Even without being acclimated to the altitude, we hiked up and back in seven hours with an 11 year old and two teenagers.

Bring bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of water, and watch the weather as afternoon and evening approach. South Zapata Lakes is worth your trek!
Written July 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Colorado Springs, Colorado565 contributions
Worth the effort
Jul 2014 • Couples
From the parking lot, hike less than half a mile towards the popular Zapata Falls. The trail to South Zapata Lake swings off to the right just before the Falls and is clearly marked. There are four easy stream crossings along the way.

BE AWARE that the one-way distance displayed on the sign ("4 miles") is wrong. The lake is at least 4.6 miles away at this point (according to our GPS after the hike was over) or just over 5 miles from the parking lot; we also spoke to several other hikers on this trail who agreed that the sign is incorrect. It was a mix of other backpackers and day hikers.

South Zapata Lake is an alpine stunner. It's a beautiful dark aqua color of a good size with a decent stream running out of it, so if you're backpacking to this point, you'll have a beautiful water source. The destination is not very popular due to the roundtrip length and elevation gain, so most likely you'll have it all to yourself (especially on a weekday). If you're lucky to be here in mid-July, wildflowers abound with American Bistort, Alpine Avens, Bluebells, Penstemon, Star Gentians, King's Crowns, and Colorado Blue Columbine dominating the floral scene.

Soaring peaks immediately surround the basin, so at night, we easily heard 4 or 5 different rockfall events echoing throughout it. I expect this to be common as the mountainsides here are steep and strewn with loose scree and talus.

There are enough flat spots to choose an ideal tent location, but as the basin is above treeline, the sites are exposed. We did pass a couple sites just below treeline that were very close to the stream, but they are at least a half mile from the lake.

Along the trail itself we saw plenty of Wild Nodding onions, Strawberry plants about to blossom, Raspberry plants, Larkspur, Mariposa lilies, Skyrockets, varieties of Saxifrage, and even Morel Mushrooms!

White-crowned sparrows and a variety of finches sang to us in the evening and again in the morning. We counted at least 6 individual marmots and 4 different chipmunks in the immediate vicinity around our tent. With all of the wildlife, please LEASH YOUR DOGS, leave no trace, and pack it in/pack it out.

We'll be back.
Written July 24, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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