While this short hike won't have you breaking a sweat, it is worth the short side trip to explore Zapata Falls and for the expansive views of the Great Sand Dunes on your way out.
Features: Fall Colors — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: A relatively short and easy climb, the kids will love exploring the area at the base of Zapata Falls.
Need to Know
The drive into the parking lot at the trailhead can be a bit rough (lots of washboard). While it technically isn't a 4WD road, it definitely helps to have some ground clearance, and just be ready for a bouncy, dusty, rocky drive in (the trailhead is located about five miles in off of 150).
A short, wide, easy trail with mild grades, Zapata Falls Trail is an easy hike to a hidden waterfall. The views from the trailhead back across the valley to the Great Sand Dunes aren't too shabby either. The path itself is wide and only has a couple rocky or steep sections, but nothing too hard to navigate.
While the falls themselves aren't the most impressive you'll ever see, it is unique to be able to hike back into the cavern where the falls originate. In the springtime, the falls will be swollen with snow melt, and hikers had better be ready for frozen feet and legs if planning on dipping their feet in the water. Later in the summer, the flow of South Zapata Creek will have lessened, making the falls easier to reach (and the water won't be as frigid). In the winter, Zapata Falls will freeze over with a beautiful sheet of clear blue ice that allows you to still see the water flowing underneath which is equally as intriguing as viewing the falls in the summer.
Flora & Fauna
Pinion pine and wildflowers in the springtime. Cottonwoods by the creek.