Wow, this is easy. You know that Lower Huerfano Trailhead you’re parked at? Look for the sign saying “Zapata Trail” on the west side of the road? Start up it. The approach is done!
From the Lower Huerfano River Trailhead:
Round Trip Distance: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: ~4100 feet
The Zapata Trail is a good trail that switchbacks up through gorgeous forests of pine and aspen before spitting you out into a meadow. Here is where it gets a bit confusing. Unfortunately, when I followed this trail, I lost it halfway through the meadow so maybe you’ll have better luck than I. If you lose the trail like I did, don’t fret for it’s easy to find again. Simply head west, aiming towards a saddle at 11, 860 on the western skyline. I crossed an irrigation ditch after leaving the meadow and followed a wide gully and eventually ran across the trail again as it made its gentle rise to the saddle.
The saddle is a serene place as the views expand before you. If you’re not too busy drooling, turn south and start up the long gentle ridge. There is no defined trail and one way is about the same as another. The wildflowers are incredible on these lower slopes so enjoy them as you go. The ridge is long, but has few very steep stretches, making for a leisurely hike. You will reach the unranked Point 13,476 and feel like this should be the summit. It’s not. Drop a few feet (140 feet to be precise) and continue to the S-SW to the sublime summit.
The summit has extremely interesting black rocks, Its like the Mecca of the Sangre de Cristos. Circle the black rocks several times before sitting down and enjoying the awe inspiring views. The Crestones and the Sand Dunes are to the North and the gigantic north faces of Blanca and Ellingwood point are to the South.
The usual gear will suit you fine, as this is a walk-up during normal conditions. If you enjoy alpine wildflowers, then forget-you-not your camera!
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