Explore Near the Cabin - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Near the Cabin Map

So beautiful!! Could be considered hard for casual hikers, and for avid hikers moderate.

Beware! The reservoir is pretty empty as of July 21!!

When we went July 2018 the reservoir was pretty much all mud and empty

Lots of beautiful wildflowers and well-marked.

Hiked Memorial Day Weekend. Absolutely beautiful hike! But please note that the lake is 6 miles ONE WAY, thus making this hike 13 miles if you include the Falls. We started around 9 am, and it took roughly 6 hours to do both and take a lunch break at the lake. Very steep trail, but once you hit the boulder fields it flattens out. Make sure to bring enough water, it gets hot in the afternoons. Lots of people were trying to start the hike (with no layers, visible water or snack supply) when we were finishing without realizing how far it really is.

1 month ago

This was my first backpacking trip in Colorado and it was great. I packed in with my 81 year old neighbor and stayed 2 nights. We caught some nice trout and saw a bald eagle, deer, elk, marmots, and lots of chipmunks. I am already planning on returning with my family.

Amazing hike. I bit more challenging than anticipated, especially coming from sea level. Started 7:00am at the campground trailhead. Made it to the lake by 11:20am. Back to campground by 3:00pm. Bring lots of water and sunscreen. The Sun is very strong. Also, thunderstorms started moving in around 1:00pm.

1 month ago

A moderately challenging hike with some steep sections. Beautiful views at the lake though!

1 month ago

Did this hike with a heavy pack. I am not going to lie this trail challenged all my strength to get to the top. Keep in mind that I also hiked out from another lake the same morning that I made this hike. If you are a fan of fishing and I am, a fly-fisher who loves it.This was some of the best alpine lake fishing I have done so far.

Excellent hike... the mapping of the trail here, though, is only very approximately correct. Don't follow the route given here. Either find a better map or just kind of walk where it looks like a reasonable person might have put a trail.

Amazing views on the way! We started very late about 5 pm and went to the falls first started to trail from the falls around 6 pm and went uphill for about another 2 hrs and turn around at 8 pm. We didn’t finish the trail but my gps told me we went about 3.4 miles so we were about 1.2 mile short of finishing the trial. It’s totally doable and worth it. Amazing views of sunset and the valley

1 month ago

Great trail with tons of wildflowers! The first part was definitely a small challenge, but once it flattened out, it was great!

Great trip. Beautiful wildflowers! Great fishing! Bring mosquito spray.

This hike is moderately difficult but STEEP once you're about a third of the way up. These mountains are powerful and the San Luis Valley can create some wild weather, so don't forget to keep your eye to the west once in awhile (the view is worth it!). When we attempted this hike during early June of 2016, there was still plenty of snow remaining on the last third of the trail, causing us to miss part of the trail that went south at a creek crossing; we instead entertained ourselves with a fairly large boulder field and eventually met back up with the trail. You're getting right up underneath some amazing, high peaks once at South Zapata Lake. Love this section of mountain ranges for the magic it still has in it!

Went there on june 24th. We came around 830 AM and saw very few people. Can get windy and cold at the lake, but the views are amazing!

1 month ago

If you drive to the trail head and park in the nearby parking lot, then the hike is only about 6.6 miles round trip. This map shows the trail head starting much further away. When we reached the end of the trail, we spent 20 minutes looking for the rest of the trail, thinking that we still had a couple of miles to go. Alas, once we were able to get cell phone reception, we realized that we WERE at the end of the trail...where it sort of dead ends near the lake.
Overall the hike was great! Lots of beautiful wildflowers. It was quite windy when we went, so I wished I had brought some warmer layers. The dogs enjoyed the patches of snow along the way. We didn't enjoy the mosquitoes as much. If we are in the area again then I would definitely hike this trail again!

This lake is stunning! It sits just below Blanca Peak which was really neat. Most of the hike is through a forest but towards the end, the trail levels out in a beautiful valley just above treeline. It was cloudy and misty when we went, but the views were still incredible. I kept stopping for photos and to just marvel at how great it was. We started early in the day (on a Sunday in June) and saw very few others on the trail. This trail is somewhat challenging with a consistent uphill grade and a few steep sections, but nothing overly demanding if you are used to hiking//are in good physical shape. And it is easy to follow.

The flowers right now are amazing--so many Columbines, more than I have ever seen on a trail before, and everything else is very green. Highly recommend if you are in the area!

At the trail head there is a sign posted warning of the difficulty of the trail and advising hikers to not "recreate beyond their abilities." I will say that was a very fair warning. The hike is beautiful, the trail leads you back to the farthest and highest point of the valley at which South Zabata Lake is located. However, almost the entire hike is uphill. Very physically challenging (as much on the way down as the way up). Bring lots of snacks and water, you will need it! It took us about 8 hours total. Fun but intense, make sure you are prepared.

This is an amazing hike. But sorry, everyone who seeks to be debating... it is 5.7 Miles EACH WAY. So you’re going to come in just under 12. That is FROM THE TRAILHEAD. Now onto the hike itself.

This trail offers amazing views, and the lake and bowl at the end are incredible. It is, however, relentless. Loose, sharp rock from the first 1/4 mile, a quite a few steep, loose, technical ascents and then descents. If you’re use to 14ers and such, you could do this in trail runners. For the average but avid hiker, I’d recommend a sturdy hiking show or mid boot and certainly one or two hiking poles would be nice, mainly for coming down.

A wonderful backpacking trail with some nice areas to camp right at tree line near the lake, but brutal as a day hike. Took us about 4 hours up and 2.5 down (lots of short stops both ways - we had a dog with us and I was having some trouble with the altitude on the ascent).

Absolutely stunning end destination and worth it - but our group of four agreed that it’s just about the toughest thing we’d done in Colorado aside from a fourteener. So be prepared and enjoy!!!

We hit Zapata falls at the end and boy did that frigid water feel amazing on our throbbing feet!

on South Zapata Lake Trail

2 months ago

This hike was exactly 10 miles round trip from the parking lot.
Very steep, suggesting hiking poles but the reward is sweet. Beautiful scenery throughout the hike.

I don't know what is wrong with these wimpy Colorado folk below me. This is definitely not a hard trail, and the moderate rating is appropriate. And the guy claiming it is 8 miles both ways is just spreading misinformation. It is 4.4 both ways. The trail is easy to follow, has a persistent but mild upward grade, and only a few short stretches of steeper climbs, although there are some very rocky bits and scree fields to cross. I would have been well served to wear stiffer-soled shoes and to remember a trekking pole. There's wonderful tree cover for most of the way. Took me 2.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down.
Love the inquisitive marmots and the Alpine tundra wildflowers above the timberline!

As the other reviewers have said, this is more of a “hard” hike as it is quite long and fairly steep in certain areas. We only saw 2 people on the trail! The views are absolutely amazing, you can see so much of the San Luis Valley and the Sand Dunes! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete this hike on that day. We started around 12:30-1pm (admiring Zapata Falls for half hour before that) and we were just past the halfway point around 3:30-4 not to mention we had to drive back to Denver later that evening. TIPS; take plenty of water OR a filter/UV light and snacks, make sure your shoes are comfy, and start EARLY. The trail sometimes isn’t marked well, follow your instincts! The road to the trailhead is about 2-2.5 miles of rocky terrain so make sure your tires are in good shape. I will be going back more prepared to see the lake in the future!

nature trips
2 months ago

First of all, moderate MY ASS. This hike is a killer climb and it’s not for the faint of heart. It is not 4.5 in and 4.5 out. It is 8 Miles in and 8 Miles out. It is a wonderful challenge, but don’t be fooled and don’t be cocky. This trail will kick your butt. Worth it but I will never do it again.

2 months ago

Did this hike this morning. IMHO, the highlight of the hike was the side trail to Rough Creek Falls. Very pretty. Ruybalid Lake itself is in a beautiful location. But the view is marred by the prevalence of so many Engelmann Spruce trees devastated by the spruce bark beetle. I still think it's worthwhile to climb up to the lake. Just don't be disappointed when you discover that the reality doesn't match the pictures you might have see of the picturesque lake.
One trail-finding note. When you reach the meadow at the top of the climb, the trail towards Ruybalid Lake is not that evident. To find it. look out into the meadow, and head towards the two 6 foot posts about 10 yards apart from each other. The furthest post has the number 855 engraved at the top of the post, signifying the Forest Service designation of the Ruybalid Lake Trail. From these posts, the trail is a lot clearer.
Enjoy your hike.

Really great trail but be prepared it’s a long one because of the incline and elevation. Took us about 6-7 hours and really is more of a hard as we clocked in around 11-12 miles because we went to the falls first. It was a little snowy in the basin, but the lake is halfway melted. Beautiful hike and view just be prepared!

Lots of camping spots along the way. Saw hardly anyone

Beautiful hike! If you feel up to it, continue on up to the summits of Twin Peaks. The views of Blanca, Ellingwood, and Little Bear are amazing!

I’ve hiked this trail 3 times, all in August. It is a religious experience to me, to be up under the sky on those miles of grassland. No bugs, but even in August there’s still a bit of a detour around that one marshy area. Not difficult except the first 3/4 mile if you’re not used to the elevation (10,000 feet). I’ve never met anyone in the trail except a sheep herder named Rego from Oaxaca and his horse.

8 months ago

Great views, tough but doable climbs, my 7 year old son was able to do it.

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