High Dune Trail

HARD 108 reviews

High Dune Trail is a 2.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Mosca, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
2.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
554 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

High Dune trail a 3.4 mile out and back trac at the Great Sand Dunes National monument. It isn't a marked trail, you just spot it, the "high dune", and make your way there the best you can by following the ridges of the dunes on the way.

hiking
6 days ago

Loved this hike. The sand obviously makes it more difficult , but sticking to the ridges definitely made a difference. The view at the top is wonderful, and there's a real feeling of accomplishment once you've battled through the sand.

hiking
13 days ago

the day that I hiked to the top of the dunes the wind was blowing according to weather report 20 to 25 miles an hour. I just bought new treking poles with the cups to use in sand or snow.the poles were very helpful. After reaching the top I headed toward the mountain up and down the ridges for maybe a mile and fond my way back to the bottom where the creek was located. I am 70 years old and have ridden over 16000 miles on a bike since august 2009. Hiking the dunes was a real treat. Just do it slow and steady

hiking
16 days ago

Short distance but challenging hike with awesome views on all sides

hiking
22 days ago

Climbing up the dunes were a pain in the ass. I wore sandals and some parts of the sand were incredibly hot so be careful! Views from the top of High Dune were spectacular. The trail may be short but be prepared with water and food (and sunscreen obviously) since hiking in sand is way more difficult and physically taxing.

hiking
22 days ago

Challenging hike but so worth it! Take breaks to catch your breath!

26 days ago

This was incredible! I ended up going when they got hit with a snow storm which added an additional challenge to making it up to the top as it was! I could barely see the Ridgeline but when I got to the top the storm cleared and you could see the whole dune field with the mountains in the background! Very challenging but so worth it! Since there aren't marked trails you can make your own adventure getting down (or up) and there is so much to explore! It was cool watching the snow gradually melt off the dunes as I descended! The visitor center is great as well!

hiking
1 month ago

short but difficult trail. similar to the incline in difficulty. But my fitness tracker confused it with a light walk due to the slow speeds.

hiking
1 month ago

It took a lot of effort to carry two sand boards up to the top! The view was spectacular. Sledding down was unfortunately too slow, despite a lot of waxing. Perhaps the sand was too wet? Still had a lot of fun with family.

hiking
2 months ago

Unbelievable views. Just doesn’t get any better. Came in March and it was 40 degrees out. On the dunes felt about 60. Hikes down the dunes barefoot. This was the most strenuous hike for me yet. Just when you think you’re in relatively good shape..

walking
2 months ago

I did this in mid-June during a heat wave, so as others have mentioned -- it gets HOT and your feet will burn on the sand if they're not protected. Super fun to watch the boarders and sledders, even if I thought they were INSANE for traipsing up that hill multiple times. Props to them. Slogging through the sand uphill is a definite workout (again, once was plenty enough for me), but being in a huge desert-like sandbox surrounded by lush green mountains is pretty unique and memorable. I also lucked out and got to experience a surge flow. Plopped right down in that cool goodness on my trek back. Felt sooooo amazing.

2 months ago

So hard. In February the cold wind and sand is pretty rough. The views are amazing!

hiking
2 months ago

Did it on 01-30-18 sooooo hard. Every step you take you are going half of a step back. Summit fever got me to the top while everyone else in my party started dropping like flies below. Its so cool to see how many dunes are still over the other side

2 months ago

It sucks walking in sand especially uphill but how can you pass up the opportunity!? Beautiful place

4 months ago

Hiked it about two years ago in summer, coulndt make it to the top because Im not use to the high altitud. It was very tiring but completely worth it. I do recommend to wear long sleeves and long pants if it is windy, sands does hit pretty hard. I also saw people sand boarding which looked really fun.

hiking
5 months ago

This is an extremely difficult climb because of the deep sand but it is worth the workout. In warmer months where high socks and shoes as the sand is hot. I summited in about an hour but was extremely winded and I am an avid hiker in in pretty good shape. It is a beautiful place and unique landscape. Medano Creek is so much fun to explore.

6 months ago

Really difficult climb. We did all of it completely barefoot, which had its pros and cons. You get more traction with hiking boots but barefoot is more fun and challenging. If it is a hot day, shoes are a must. In fact, I can't imagine going here in the middle of summer, it would be brutally hot. A perfect day is partly cloudy and mid 50s. Views are incredible!

hiking
6 months ago

I had so much fun exploring Medano Creek and the amazing dune field, slowly working my way up from one ridge line to the next. The views are tremendous and so unique. I got close to the top of High Dune before I had to turn back. It was the last day of my late July vacation, and unfortunately I had a limited amount of time. I was lucky that the weather and partial cloud cover kept the sand from getting too hot during the middle of the day...also that Medano Creek was still flowing that late in the summer. The prairie sunflowers were just beginning to bloom as well. It was truly an awesome experience, and I hope to get back one day to explore again!

hiking
6 months ago

Amazing views!!! Hard going up but all worth it! Sandy shoes make it hard and heavy to go up. Hat, sun glasses and lots of water is a MUST. Dress in layers, the wind can feel chilly at times this time of the year. It was an amazing experience to do it with my daughter before she went off to college.
We did it in the summer months and the heat was incredible. Now in October it is quite different. Windy and cool but again all worth it once you reach the top. No open toe shoes!!!

hiking
7 months ago

Lots of effort, but so rewarding!

8 months ago

Amazing views, exhausting hike. Consider switchbacks when going up steeper sections, along with plenty of water.

9 months ago

This hike is unlike anything else because you can rent a sand board or sled for $20 (at the Oasis store which you turn into from the main road before you enter the park proper) and slide down the dunes at up to 38 mph. The hike itself is strenuous only due to heat and sand. Sliding half a step backward with each step forward on the hot sand is simply discouraging; but if you keep at it, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of one of the most unique landscapes in the country.

hiking
9 months ago

Incredible view. Not as hard as I expected based on the reviews/difficulty ranking (that is not to say it isn't hard - it is. as others have said you basically take 2 steps back for every one step forward in sand. however, it's totally doable even for a novice like me. additionally, it doesn't require any sort of skill/maneuvering ). Follow the ridges and areas of packed/wet sand for an easier trip. You'll likely see the paths others took. Take as many breaks as you need. I started at 9:40AM. Very comfortable temperature wise. I wore sandals and packed socks and shoes in case the sand got too hot. I ended up going bare foot for the trip up. On my final journey down around 11:30AM/noon, the sand was getting a little too hot so I put on my sandals which sufficed. I packed 3L of water and only drank about 1L. I didn't have an issue with wind. It blew for a bit and pelted my ankles with sand, but my pants prevented any pain. I was in a tank top and my arms were fine. Highly recommend bringing a sand sled to get the most of it. Reward yourself by cooling off in the creek by the parking lot when you finish (contrary to what I was told to expect - the creek was lively today - August 11). I saw some people brought lawn chairs to sit in the creek. Nice idea.

9 months ago

Go when it is cold out because you will still cook

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful place. Silvia and I went on a Saturday afternoon. It was cloudy and had rained a couple of hours earlier. We went up the GSD trail and also cooled our feet on the stream at the base of the sand dunes.

hiking
10 months ago

Tough to hike with sand and gravity working against you, but if you're having trouble, just take it slow, don't give up, and look forward to the speed and ease of coming back down. The views are totally worth it! Took someone's advice and wore gaiters, hiking boots, and snug clothing, so came away a little gritty, but not as sandy as others. Recommend at least 2L of water per person.

hiking
10 months ago

That was fun!

10 months ago

pretty view from up top. I read another users review on here saying that sand gets everywhere. My god they weren't joking. I have sand in places I never imagined and then some. I am 100% sand. I am the Sandman please dear god I miss being human not sand:(

hiking
10 months ago

This is perhaps the most difficult trail that I've ever done and I've hiked a lot in my fifty years! This is loose sand and sometimes one step forward takes you two steps back. I purchased sand goggles for this hike and was very glad because the wind was howling and the sand was blowing. That being said, the dunes, with their strange shapes and changing shadows were beautiful. The farther out you go, the fewer people. The view from the top of High Dune is awesome as is the feeling of achievement.

11 months ago

Gorgeous landscape! It is difficult. Every step you take, you slip back down so be prepared for slow progress. It's very windy and the sand gets blown everywhere. The sand was glued onto my sweat and snot. Pretty intense "hike".

hiking
11 months ago

A must-do if you visit this park. Be prepared for slow progress and some sand blasting at you if it's windy! We went in the morning when it was still cool and not as crowded.

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