North Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.61400°N / 105.498°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 1 (Walk-up)
Sign the Climber's Log


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!

Route Description

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.

Essential Gear

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!

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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djilk - Jul 14, 2017 10:53 am - Hasn't voted

Meadow Instructions

We scouted the route because all the guide books and this page indicate it is hard to find the trail through the meadow. It is simple. When you clear the aspens into the first meadow, you'll quickly come to a barb-wire fence, which the trail follows for 50 yards and passes through an open gate. Right after you pass through the gate, look left (southwest), you will see a 50' high, 200' wide rock pile. Go all the way to the right (west) end of that pile and you will see cairns holding up logs to get you back on trail. Trail is easy after that.

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