Peak(s):  California Peak  -  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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

One tenth of a mile from the summit.

The views from the summit are outstanding.

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

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

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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Comments or Questions
This looks better than ...
08/01/2022 21:54
... the standard route. Thanks for sharing!

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