Kelso Dunes Trail is a 4.3 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Amboy, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from October until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.3 km Elevation Gain: 129 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no shade

Directions from Ludlow: Travel westward on Interstate 40 28.2 miles to Kelbaker Road. Turn left (north) on Kelbaker Road and drive 14 miles to the Kelso Dunes access road. Turn left and drive four miles to the trailhead.

hiking
no shade
5 days ago

Spent the night at the campground nearby to get an early start, and ended up staying up way too late stargazing. Started at 5:15am and couldn't make it to the top before the temps started rising. We did make it about halfway up and had breakfast with an awesome view. Lots of neat tracks. The dog loved the sand. The terrain is tough, so bring lots of water. Planning on coming back during a cooler season. Be warned that the dirt road to the trail and campground has a ton of potholes.

hiking
no shade
13 days ago

hiking
no shade
16 days ago

This hike was significantly more difficult going up than I expected, down however was cake! It was an incredible experience and the dunes were beautiful. Prepare to posthole knee deep when you get near the top and don't worry about all the sand in your boots until you're back down.

hiking
no shade
18 days ago

hiking
no shade
25 days ago

Awesome dunes and a short hike considering you’re going to the top of the dunes. Took the path up to the right and walked the apex up. You can walk straight down the hill, we walked down barefoot, but after watching a video after of how rattlesnakes burrow in the sand I don’t think we’d do it again barefoot.

hiking
no shade
off trail
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Such a cool experience! The first half is easy and the trail is easy to follow. Because the dunes are subject to the changing winds, the second half becomes a bit of a free for all. It gets moderate to difficult, as the last portion is very steep. Luckily there’s no shortage of sand to catch your fall. Be prepared for strong winds the further up you go, but it’s an incredible feeling. Seeing the other side of the dunes was really special. (April weather was great, about 70 degrees and partly cloudy. Comfortable in shorts and a tshirt.)

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

This was awesome! If you have never done a dune hike before, I can not say enough great things. There is 0 shade so definitely bring water and try and avoid going on a hot day! Do it!

hiking
no shade
scramble
1 month ago

Tough getting to the top! Boots full of sand. My dog loved it! Cool weather only with dogs or kids!

hiking
2 months ago

Whatever jack basset said, but I would like to add that you should take a stick to help you climb. Take shoes off toward the end or use hiking sandals

hiking
2 months ago

This was so much harder than I anticipated. The trail is unmarked, but if you're always following the area in which you see the most footsteps, you'll be fine. If you're using AllTrails maps, follow the black dashes at the very end instead of the red line. The direct incline of the tall dune is one of the hardest things I have ever done, I was stopping basically every ten steps to catch my breath. There's an easier approach from the east side that the black dashes on the AllTrails map shows you. The eastern dunes are the most photogenic, and you can walk over towards them easily after summiting the tall dune. The 3 mile dirt road to the trailhead was paved long ago, and now features regularly placed potholes that are difficult to see until you're close. Take it slow, much slower than the recommended 25 MPH, or you'll be replacing your shocks and struts significantly sooner than planned.

hiking
fee
scramble
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Easy hike. Did Amboy Crater and Kelso Dunes the same day. Worth the time.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

hiking
scramble
4 months ago

hiking
no shade
5 months ago

This is always a great place to run around and take photos! Never gets old, wish it was closer to stuff haha. Definitely windy as heck and cold in the winter. No complaints besides the dirt road getting to the trailhead is a fun experience but any kind of car can make it.

hiking
5 months ago

Good hike to see dunes but there really isn’t an easy to follow trail.

7 months ago

This hike is so cool. its incredible how massive the dunes are. I hiked to the dune peak, it took about 3 hours, but I stopped a lot to eat, catch lizards, and take pictures. The hike to the peak is definitely hard, its steep, tall A F, and the sand moves on you. Totally worth it though once you are at the top. Running and jumping down the dune is always fun too!

hiking
7 months ago

loved it but did about half way out to a good view point

hiking
no shade
9 months ago

This is intense. Crazy how in the depths of the desert is a sand dune this large. Its really weird when you see it for the first time. But the hike is awesome to get to the top. Its definitely not an easy hike, as every step feels like way more work because your feet are sinking. But if you make it to the top for sun rise or sunset its so worth it!

hiking
bugs
no shade
10 months ago

Awesome trail the dunes at the end offer such rewarding view for such a short hike, make sure to get there early, I got to the trail head at 6:30am and finished at 8:00am before the temperature got too high. Also recommend hiking sandals as your feet will be buried in sand when climbing the dunes.

hiking
no shade
10 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

We didn't have the shoes for the dunes, but we walked up to the beginning and loved it!

hiking
no shade
Tue May 14 2019

hiking
Tue May 07 2019

If the sand is very soft the uphill portion can be intense, especially on your lower back. But it’s short enough to push through it and rest at the top. At the top you get 360 views that showcase some stunning mountains, plains, and more dunes. The wildflowers at the base of the dunes can also be very impressive.

hiking
no shade
Mon May 06 2019

The uphill sand hills were definitely a challenge for my girlfriend, but with the right amount of water and breaks we did it. The view and photo ops made it totally worth it. Met a few people from different parts of the world that were hiking too. Wear some shorts, hat and light colored clothes because the sun is strong.

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