Zapata Falls Trail

Alamosa County, Colorado

Elevation Gain230ft
Trailhead Elevation9,064ft
Elevation Min/Max9064/9260ft
Elevation Start/End9064/9064ft

Zapata Falls Trail

Zapata Falls Trail is a hiking trail in Alamosa County, Colorado. It is 0.4 miles long and begins at 9,064 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 0.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 230 feet. This trail connects with the following: South Zapata Lake Trail (FS852).

Zapata Falls Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Mountain Biking Colorado (Falcon Guides)
Stephen Hlawaty
View more trails from this guide book
"Zapata Falls Trail offers a short but scenic tour of the San Luis Valley, the Great Sand Dunes, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. An easy, stacked-loop ride, Zapata Falls Trail is a great family ride, offering 4 to 10 miles of well-maintained singletrack—an excellent trail for the beginner mountain biker. Although the Zapata area is composed of four distinct numbered loops, the ride described here includes sections of each loop, introducing the rider to all four. Consult interpretive area map signs when deciding which loops to add or subtract from this description. A short 0.25-mile hike beginning at 9,000 feet delivers you to Zapata Falls."
Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado (Falcon Guides)
Susan Joy Paul
View more trails from this guide book
"On the northwest ramparts of 14,042-foot Ellingwood Point in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, snowmelt and rainfall fill South Zapata Lake, funnel into South Zapata Creek, and flow north to fuel Zapata Falls. This dramatic plunge waterfall—located just 8 miles south of Great Sand Dunes National Park—is a family favorite. Follow the wide, rocky, juniper-lined trail to the creek. You will have to wade up the creek to view the falls, so this is a good time to put on your water shoes and get out your trekking pole. Alpine glaciers once covered this area, depositing a moraine and then carving a deep and narrow cleft through it with melting water. Enter this cleft in the rock and make your way to the base of the falls. You may have to wait in line for the best views, as this is a popular photo-taking spot."
Best Hikes with Kids Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Maureen Keilty
View more trails from this guide book
"A stop at Zapata Falls caps the trip for many visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. After a morning of cavorting in the sand, the short hike to Zapata Falls leads to a cool retreat for creek play and exploration. Simply driving to the trailhead offers grand views of the dune?eld and San Luis valley. Interpretive signs near the parking lot orient visitors to the valley, lakes, and mountains of the region."
Hiking Colorado's Sangre de Cristos and Great Sand Dunes (Falcon Guides)
Jason Moore, Revised by Lee Hart
View more trails from this guide book
"A scenic trail up to high lakes above the tree line, with access to Twin Peaks."
Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
View more trails from this guide book
"A hidden waterfall, several old miner’s cabins, and a high alpine lake are the rewards of this hike. The Zapata Falls are only 0.5 mile from the trailhead, and that is as far as most people get. The cabins are less than a mile beyond Zapata Falls, and they are also a worthwhile goal for a short day hike into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The real highlight of this hike, however, is South Zapata Lake, a small alpine lake at the end of the trail in a majestic basin surrounded by 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks."

Zapata Falls Trail Trip Reports

5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
icon3 Total
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
Super rough road to get to the hike. Definitely need the right car to get there. Gorgeous falls and beautiful views.
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
Took the trip a year ago during March. It is an easy trail and the river was thick with ice. The falls were mostly frozen and had a beautiful light blue tinge to them. You could hear and see the river running under the ice. Have taken this trip a couple of times but the winter trip was my favorite.
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
Beautiful trail, but can be strenuous. Lots of loose rock on trail. My daughter (14) and I hiked about 2 hours up, through pine forests and across clear streams. At the 2 hour point, We met a couple coming down who had been up to the lake already that day. I'd estimate 4-5 hours to the lake one way. Worth the hike, even if you don't want to spend the whole day at it.

Zapata Falls Trail Photos

Trail Information

Alamosa County
Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
Additional Use
Waterfalls, Views
Rio Grande National Forest, Conejos Peak Ranger District, 15571 CR T5, La Jara 81140; (719) 274-8971.
Local Contacts
USGS Zapata Ranch, Twin Peaks; Colorado’s San Luis Valley Mountain Bike Guide, available at local bike shops; DeLorme: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 81 D-6.
Local Maps

Trail Log