Explore the most popular kid friendly trails in Great Sand Dunes National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The first half, walking along the creek, is easy and fun. The second half, walking back on the dunes, is challenging, but so worth it. Scaling up and across steep dunes made for excellent views and was definitely something to be proud of. It was a beautiful way to get the full experience!

Did this hike in 2013. Mostly you pave your own way up the creek and circling back over the dunes. Great experience on one of the few true dunes in U.S. We also took sleds down the dunes. It was a fun trip with my boys.

Great Campground! The Sand Dunes with the surrounding Mountains is Incredible!

A short and easy loop mostly through the pretty hillside trees. There are a few nice views of the ridges above on the way up and out, as well as the dune field in the distance on the way back down. Definitely combine this with the Wellington Ditch Trail if possible for even better views of the amazing surrounding area.

During my visit in July, I started the trail from its southern end at the intersection where the Montville Nature Trail loops back to the trailhead, and near where the Mosca Pass Trail continues into the mountains. The views begin almost immediately, and are mostly unobstructed by the hillside trees. The higher perspective provides a wonderful view of the dune field, the grasslands and the surrounding Sangre De Cristo Mountains. With limited time, I wasn’t able to complete the entire trail. But it was definitely worth it for the beautiful panorama.

Beautiful and family-friendly campground nestled in GSDNPP. The sites vary in size and are mixed use RV/Tent. We had a couple of pop ups and one luxury bus style RV nearby during our stay and didn't have any issue with noise or the like. Camped in Loop 2 Site 81 which was very accessible to the bathrooms, had a peekaboo view of the Dunes, and a small creek running along one side, mosquitoes were light to average amount. The kids loved playing in the creek and the mule deer that would wander down every evening sipping water and looking for scraps of food. The trees provided some light shade in our site but a few sites were more exposed along the far side of the Loop. I would recommend bringing a pop up canopy if it's going to be very hot/sunny during your stay. There is a small store for essentials (ice etc). The store has a rather impressive selection given how small a space they occupy and a very friendly proprietor. Bathrooms are flush toilets and sinks. The only drawback I can think of is that there are no showers anywhere in the park *except right at the edge of the Dunes and they have signs clearly posted forbidding soap and shampoo use so if you stay more than a day or two plan to pack baby wipes or your own solar shower. The Dunes were a blast to hike/sled and rentals from the Oasis shop just outside the park was a simple process. We lucked out in that Medano Creek was still flowing thanks to a couple of storms that rolled through. The kids loved splashing in the shallow water and playing in the wet sand. There were several excellent trails varying in degrees of difficulty. This particular trail was very easy at only a mile and with minimal elevation gain. Lots of wildflowers while we were there. Gorgeous views no matter where you go in the park. Make sure you swing through the Visitor Center to take a look around and pick up Junior Ranger booklets if camping with Tiny Humans. Overall two thumbs up. Would highly recommend for a family camping experience.

Took the 4WD road to the Sand Ramp trailhead, parked, backpacked to Little Medano backcountry campsite (0.7 miles, uphill, in the sand). There is a drought, so Little Medano Creek was dry, which was a shame; we ended up going back to the road and carrying water back. We set up camp and then hiked just past Aspen and back with lighter gear. As others mentioned, there seems to be a lot of unnecessary winding, but the views are beautiful. I'm surprised people rate this trail so low, but maybe it's the time of year that you go? We had a great overnight, and then packed up and hiked the dunes on Day 2.

nice place...... wear shoes if you plan to hike the dunes..... the sand is hot........gets super packed in summer.

hiking
11 months ago

This is a fairly easy trail between near the visitor center and the campground. Although the views if the dunes are great, it is somewhat marred by the presence of roads and buildings in between. However, the dunes are really only accessible from the eastern side so this is understandable.

hiking
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Long sandy hike. Beautiful views.

hiking
Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lessor trail in the park. Doable by most. Gets you to the creek. and edge of the dunes. Have done it several times when visiting with different groups

hiking
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Easy but interesting. Good for the end of a long day.

hiking
Friday, September 23, 2016

Nice that the creek crosses midway. Kids did well, dogs paws hurt on the return.

hiking
Thursday, September 08, 2016

The first half (heading counter-clockwise) may have been light to moderate, but coming back across the dunes was hard! Literally walking up the steepest, off-camber walls of sand, trying not to look down, getting breathless within seconds - very taxing and tedious but worth the work! We had the most amazing views and the feeling of being on a vast desert mountain in the sky made it seem otherworldly! Walking along the creek barefoot at the end was the perfect ending to an amazing hike! Expect: wind, lots of sand in your shoes, a feeling as though there isn't really a "trail" to follow because there isn't really (using this app in real time helped). Wear: gaiters, a hat, lots of sunscreen. Bring: strong right hamstrings (or left if going clockwise).

hiking
Saturday, September 03, 2016

Pretty trail in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Amazing views of the dunes from the top lookout spot. Combine this loop trail with Mosca Pass Trail to make more of a journey!

hiking
Friday, May 20, 2016

Gorgeous views, the trail does a lot of unnecessary winding and is very sandy. Although the dunes are pretty from the trail, my trip got a hundred times better once I moved into the dune field and began backpacking through the dunes, even camping in the center of the dune field. It's hard work, but the experience is far more memorable and unique. I highly recommend that rather than the trail. Come in spring or early summer before it gets crazy busy or crazy hot, and the streams are still flowing

camping
Thursday, April 21, 2016

As another reviewer pointed out, this trail is very sandy, so it was a lot more difficult than I expected. I camped at the Little Medano primitive site. From Point of No Return, it was 4 miles in. It took me at least 3 hours each way with a full pack because of the sand, hills, and heavy pack. Give yourself plenty of time if you have to set up campl. There are great views of the dunes and the valley until you pass Indian Grove. Then it's hills and trees. Both Medano and Little Medano were flowing, so there was a water supply when I went. I got a weak cell signal (Verizon) and there is a 4WD road that runs mostly paralel to the trail. It's far enough that you don't know it's there, but close enough that rangers can get to you if you get hurt. One party per primitive site, so if you want to get a permit (free), you should probably get there early. The ranger will tell you if the creeks are flowing.

camping
Monday, April 11, 2016

Typical national forest for fee campground. Adjacent to the Dunes. Great Facilities. I have camped here twice when visiting the Dunes.

hiking
Monday, June 08, 2015

Great views of the Dunes right from the trail. Trail head not too hard to find if you go through the campground.

Surreal. Amazing. End of May. Weather was perfect. It did get cold and windy at night. Plan for everything weather wise as it is colorado. We camped at Aspen backcountry site and found our way back off trail the next day.

hiking
Monday, May 18, 2015

Also - forgot to mention - no cell phone service (AT&T) on this trail.

camping
Monday, May 18, 2015

Backpacked from the main campground to the Little Medano Creek back country site - about 5 miles, one way. The trail was much more sandy than I had anticipated. It's not quite hiking in the dunes, but it's not hiking on a hard packed trail either. There was little elevation gain until I crossed Medano road and ascended to the back country site, which was well situated. Nice views of the dunes and not much shade. Be prepared for sun, and/or wind (with accompanying sand).

hiking
Thursday, July 31, 2014

This is a short, easy trail in the woods that connects to the Wellington Ditch and Mosca Pass trails. Lots of flowers in this damp late July. Shade on this trail is a good break from the heat of the dunes.

hiking
Thursday, July 31, 2014

This is a fairly flat trail that connects the camp ground and Montville Nature Trail. Offers sweeping views of the dunes.

on Montville Nature Trail

hiking
Saturday, June 15, 2013

Easy, probably perfect for families with young children. We walked it to get to Mosca pass, then took the other half to get back to the campsite. Nice change of scenery from the dunes.

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

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