Peak(s):  California Pk  -  13,849 feet
Date Posted:  07/11/2020
Date Climbed:   07/06/2020
Author:  KarenG
 North Ridge via Zapata Trail  

If you would rather not drive or hike the last mile to the Upper Huerfano/Lily Lake TH you can hike the north ridge from the Zapata Trail. This route was 8.8 miles RT and 3900' total elevation gain. The trail starts at a signed TH on the west side of the road at 10,260.


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Zapata Trail

The trail climbs through aspen for a half mile and emerges in a meadow near 10,700. The trail can be hard to follow in the meadow. Pass through an opening in the fence and go southwest. Aim for the right side of a rocky hill at the far edge of the meadow. You will eventually see some cairns and posts marking the trail.


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Looking southwest across the meadow

The trail reenters the forest and climbs the ridge. The trail reaches a saddle at 11,800. From there leave the trail and follow the ridge to the south.


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The ridge to California from the top of the Zapata trail.


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Looking back at the Zapata saddle from 13,000

There are a few bumps on the ridge between 13,000 and the summit. You can go up and over them or traverse slightly to the west to avoid a little extra elevation gain.


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Climb up to the bench on this one and then stay to the right of the high spot.

At 13,600 you will see a rocky hump leading to the summit. Take the trail through the rocks that angles up and to the right. You can follow it all the way around.


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Follow the trail that angles up and right through the rocks.

The trail will bring you around a corner and you will see the last tenth of a mile and some talus that leads to the actual summit.


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One tenth of a mile from the summit.

The views from the summit are outstanding.

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Looking south at Lindsey, Blanca, Ellingwood and Little Bear.

You can see the Sand Dunes and more of the Sangres to the north.

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Looking north

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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