South Zapata Lake Trail is a 9.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mosca, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length9.7 miElevation gain3,208 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingHikingSnowshoeingBird watchingForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeRocky
Description
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Getting There

The offline map is recommended to get oriented as several users have reported that this trail is not well marked. A hidden waterfall, several old miners cabins, and a high alpine lake are the rewards of this hike. The Zapata Falls are only 0.5 mile from the trailhead. The cabins are less than a mile beyond Zapata Falls. Continue 4 miles or so and you will come to a beautiful alpine lake above the tree line.

Park at Zapata Falls trailhead

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

Directions from U.S. Highway 160: From U.S. Highway 160, proceed north on State Road 150 for 12 miles to a dirt road on the right side. It is approximately 4 miles from State Road 150 to the trailhead.

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Reviews (142)
Photos (302)
Activities (88)
Completed (330)
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Evan Skangalis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 7, 2021
Hiking

Snow is deep enough to post hole w/o snowshoes starting at the 2.5 mile mark, turned around at 3 miles but otherwise a gorgeous hike.

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Elizabeth Streeter
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HikingSnow

The trail is easy to find in the snow and the first part is decently packed in as of March 1, 2021. Not a single other person on the trail, beautiful and quiet.

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Bill Eerdmans
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Hiking
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Larissa Rutherford
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HikingGreat!

Great hike! I was not prepared for how rough the road in is, but it's doable (just a bit tiring to do). The hike itself was fun, great to see the cabins and the creek crossings. Enjoyable views and a steady incline. I saw deer, a ton of burrowing creatures that I only caught small glimpses of and couldn't identify, lots of pika near and around the lake, and one startled bobcat!

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Jen Waters
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Hiking

Joy Cipoletti, 60, was hiking Saturday in the Zapata Falls area, on the South Zapata Lake Trail, and in the Ellingwood Point area, according to the sheriff’s office. Cipolleti was last known to be wearing a light purple or green jacket and she may be wearing a white hat. She is described as 5 feet, 3 inches tall and about 140 pounds, with curly brown and gray hair. She was last heard from at about 3 p.m. Saturday. Anyone who has seen Cipolleti, or who knows of her whereabouts, is asked to call police at 719-589-5807, or search and rescue at 773-456-2927.

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Rachel Cengia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 4, 2020
Backpacking

Backpacked this 9/25 - the trail was clear and the fall colors stunning. I consider myself an experienced hiker and this was still pretty tough- lots of elevation gain. It is worth the work though as the lake views are beautiful! I camped at the lake and was the only one up there.

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K. H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 1, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Hiked 09/25/20: Closer to 12 miles round trip! Very steep for majority of the way up, but fall colors were beautiful! Download the map..it is easy to get off trail at some points. And yes, the first stream crossing you can walk across the logs (see photo). We were fooled a few times up top about where the lake was...just keep going and it will be obvious. Very peaceful up top. Be prepared for a good workout and have fun!!

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Jonathan Forell
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BackpackingRocky

This trail was really tough! Had to turn back at 4.7 miles, guessing it was more like 6.5 or 7 to the lake. Very rocky, straight up the whole way and not much mercy.

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Chelsea Schelter
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HikingRocky

*This hike was 11 miles!* Gorgeous late September hike with changing aspens, and Lake Zapata was amazing, definitely worth it. Plan to get to Lake Zapata by noon, as the wind really starts to kick up from the 14ers nearby. Mostly straight uphill for 4.5 miles, last mile to the lake was relatively flat. Watch out for poison ivy and cactus.

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matthew tuffin
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Hiking
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Sydney Miller
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HikingGreat!

Hiked 09/19 This trail is very steep and took longer than expected so give yourself plenty of time. The view of the lake was definitely worth the hike, absolutely gorgeous! There were only a few other people on the trail and the aspen trees were starting to change color. Great hike

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Christine Tank
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 22, 2020
Hiking

This hike is beautiful! I’m a casual hiker and I found it very strenuous. We did it as a day hike. I felt like the first half was a bit more steep than the second but then there was less oxygen further up. Totally worth it though! Saw big horn sheep at the lake! Amazing!

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K totheR
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 13, 2020
BackpackingMuddyRockySnow

This was a last minute trip change from a multiday backpacking trip due to the Sept snow storm. I'm so glad we chose this route. We backpacked 2 nights. Though, technically, this trip can be done in one day or overnight. The trail is well-marked and itself is beautiful, but once you hit about mile 4-ish, it becomes clear that you are at a high elevation. We heard marmot everywhere and saw a few, too. This review isn't very well spoken, but if you're thinking about taking this hike, please do. You won't be sorry. And, give yourself time at the lake, especially in the snow. Since we stayed 2 nights, we had plenty of time at the top. I even took a nap. We were the only ones up there. The only thing that made us move were the formation of thick dark clouds. Oh, and the people coming back down kept telling us the lake was covered in snow or dried up to a puddle. They were wrong. KEEP WALKING. Follow the alltrails map. It is accurate. Wish I could say more.

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Amelia Hardy
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Amazing views once you get to the top, but it’s a challenge to get there. We camped at the Zapata campground near the base of the trail; a sign said it was 4.5 miles to the lake, but it was definitely longer. The trail is quite steep and rocky in some places, so wear good shoes and bring a hiking pole or walking stick if you have one.

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Amber Garcia
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Hiking
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Jennifer Aragon
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Hiking

Tough trail but so worth it. We clocked 10.7 miles round trip with two 10 year olds.

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Hailey Gresslin
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HikingBugsMuddyOff trailOver grownRockyScramble

Beware: the comments I’m about to make are through the eyes of someone who just completed their first 14er. This trail is tremendous. Going to the peak via Zapata is a class 3/4 hike and is quite a feat to accomplish— first time summiting or not. The gully at the saddle where you need to climb up & down is very difficult and scary! When we got to the top of the saddle, my friend decided that the hike was not for her, but I went ahead to summit Ellingwood with the idea of Blanca in mind. We started the trail at 5:20A from the TH of Zapata Falls and I summited Ellingwood at 12:00 (locals warn to get off of the peaks before 12 as the wind can be quite abrasive up there). I heavily contemplated Blanca as the traverse looks insanely cool, but it looked like it would take longer than an hour (more like 2) coming from Ellingwood as opposed to using the Como Lake route (Blanca to Ellingwood). I’m glad that I didn’t attempt Blanca as it took me a whole hour to get back to the saddle, and then another hour down the gully, which then it took us /another/ 2.5hrs to get back to the trailhead. If you’re going to do this hike, be prepared to be on the trail for 12+ hours if starting from the TH. If you’re an avid hiker, you might be able to squeeze in Blanca, depending on speed, skill, and weather.

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Hailey Gresslin
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Hiking

Very difficult, poorly marked, very rocky; a good time. Would not recommend for beginners and freshly moderate hikers.

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Jason Ramstetter
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Trail was open as of today! Long challenging hike but well worth it this app was very handy. i was able to follow changes in elevation and happiness

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Scott Fowler
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HikingClosed

As of today, the hike up Zapata Lake is closed.

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Hillary Matt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
HikingRocky

Signs on site say that it is 8 miles round trip. We clocked it at 12 miles round trip. This is a very difficult trail- not meant for novice hikers. Had to make many stops to catch breath. Even the dogs were extremely tired. Made it up in almost 4 hours and down in 2. Very secluded trail which is super nice, hopefully it stays that way! Only saw 5 other groups and 2 groups camping near the lake on a Saturday. Very evident that many people try the hike expecting it to be just 8 miles and turn around due to difficulty. Make sure you bring plenty of water; as it’s super hot during the day. usually don’t drink all of my 3L pack during 14ers and drank it all by the top. Not a very well marked trail, got caught off trail twice. No signs to trail. But it starts just before the falls. Great workout!

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