High Dune Trail

HARD 166 reviews

High Dune Trail is a 2.2 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
2.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
492 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

High Dune trail at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument is not a marked trail. Make your way there the best you can by following the ridges of the dunes on the way. Dogs are allowed on the trail to High Dune and on the front range of Dunes, but they are not allowed past the highest point on High Dune.

hiking
1 month ago

Simply great!

hiking
1 month ago

The dunes are always a great time. We hiked Sunday mid morning to late afternoon. Definitely a leg burner. Be sure to bring sun screen, sunglasses and extra water! It’s almost worth wearing long sleeves and pants as the wind can pick up the sand pretty quickly. Incredible views

hiking
1 month ago

Completed this trail in a little over 2 hours, so the estimated time is pretty spot (I don't consider myself a super adept hiker). Additionally, I went on a relatively cloudy day, which turned out to be beneficial because it definitely lowered the temperature and kept the sun from beating down on us the entire time. It seemed that 90+% of the people that made it to high dune did not venture further to the Star Dune (tallest in NA). I ended up continuing to Star and it was undoubtedly pretty difficult. There are a fair amount of large dunes between the two points (I believe it's roughly 1.5 mi past High Dune). Overall, hiking up Star Dune, itself, was challenging, since the grade was steeper than I had anticipated. If you do continue on to Star- be sure to bring plenty of water. Good luck!

1 month ago

Beautiful, loved having the mountains surrounding!

hiking
1 month ago

Magic!

hiking
2 months ago

It's my first time to climb a sand dune. I didn't imagine it's so hard to hike on the sand dune. It's really hard but funny. The only problem is sometimes the wind is so strong that you cannot even open your eyes. I think it's better to wear a long sleeved clothes. I didn't wear it and I felt pain when the sands beat me. There will not be many people climbing to the top of the dune, so I felt proud for my success.

2 months ago

Very neat experience! Definitely tough on the way up. Really suggest going early, especially if you bring dogs! Also make sure to wear shoes you don’t mind getting sand in.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiking on the Dunes is such an incredible experience. We went at sunrise, and it was well worth it. Some things to keep in mind:
-hiking in sand is much more difficult than regular hiking. It's a short distance (approx a mile to High Dune), but each step takes a lot more effort than hiking on usual surfaces
-we went the morning after a rainstorm. The sand was more packed/hard than usual, and this made hiking much easier. I highly recommend it!
-even though it's counterintuitive, wear shoes/boots/socks, not sandals. The sand can get quite hot and it burns. Even if you start out in the dark/early morning, the temperature can rise quickly.
-be careful in planning your path to the Dune; avoid the fragile plants!
-if it's windy, you'd appreciate long pants, a hat, and a windproof jacket (a rain jacket would do). At one point while sand boarding, I even wished for goggles.

Enjoy!

hiking
3 months ago

Wow. Definitely not a hike for those with weak knees. We planned on camping here, but due to lighting we ended up getting on the dunes around 2a.m. Definitely a challenging, but very rewarding hike. Some of the best views you can experience in America!

3 months ago

Surreal place and great little hike. Water and sunscreen are a must.

hiking
3 months ago

If you're taking your dog, be aware of the temperature of the sand! Nothing is worse for your furry friend than four burned paws. According to the lovely rangers, the sand gets 50 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature. So get an early start, or do a sunset hike if you're bringing your pets.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely breathtaking, I am from upstate NY and there simply isn't anything that will prepare you for the contrast of enormous sand dunes against the backdrop of such majestic mountains. There is no marked trail, it is go as you please (a refreshing change from life here in the northeast) so you really so feel as if your hike is unique. Don't be fooled though, the further you go the more you understand that hiking in sand is more difficult than you might expect. There really are no words for the beauty you will see, so do not miss this if you are in the area. If you are afraid of heights, as my wife is, it can really push your limits as you walk the ridge lines heading to High Dune. If is a windy day, which it was, the blowing sand can sting and get everywhere ( I mean everywhere). But don't let that stop you, the view from the top of High Dune is unlike any I have ever seen. Looking out over that vast dune field and grassland is something you will never forget!

hiking
3 months ago

FYI, walking up steep sand dunes is tougher than it looks.

3 months ago

Great hike and since of accomplishment when you reach the top! Definitely wear wind breaker pants and take something to cover your face. The sand hitting you on some of the ridges from the wind hurts! Take lots of water and take lots of breaks!

hiking
3 months ago

Much harder than one would expect. Bring water and sunglasses, as towards the top the wind gets nasty and you will be eating sand. Pace yourself, as the sand makes it slow going. Push past the initial high point where most people stop and continue off to the left, which requires a slight decline before heading up the spine of the final, highest dune, which offers amazing views.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike!

hiking
3 months ago

A hiking stick helps a lot. Bring much more water than you think you will need.

hiking
4 months ago

Such a unique hike in CO. Highly recommended for those looking to go out of their comfort zones.

4 months ago

Hiking sticks are a huge help.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiking sticks are a big help

hiking
4 months ago

The views are amazing, the overall feeling you get is worth the pain and struggle climbing up the sand. I thought I was going to pass out on the first high ascent, but honestly it gets (relatively) easier once you make it up that first tall dune. TIPS: I get vertigo now and again, I brought my neck cover (for skiing) with me in case it was very windy/sandy. Thank god I did bc the constant wind from one direction was SO bothersome to my left ear, I started feeling dizzy. Used the neck warmer as a head band to protect my ears and it made the world of difference. I brought my dog as well, it was mid 70’s that day so her paws were fine but we brought her booties just in case. She loved it! But again, be mindful of your animals with the high winds/Sand. My dog is a border collie mix so she has a lot of hair around her ears for natural protection. If your dog doesn’t have a lot of hair, please consider cutting an old pair of leggings, and using the “tube” as a hoodie!

4 months ago

The views from the trail were amazing! Be prepared for some harsh winds blowing a lot of sand at you on windy days. Also keep in mind that sand is far more difficult to hike than a dirt trail and ascending the dunes can leave you out of breath. When stopping to catch your breath you may be buffeted by sand which is constantly blowing low to the ground. I would suggest a mask/cloth to cover your nose and mouth because you will inhale a lot of it. Eyedrops are great too or wear goggles. I didn’t see actual wind speeds near the top but they can knock you over and make sure your hats are secured. Your shoes will get filled with sand if you wear them, I tied mine tightly to keep some out but the effort only delays the occasional bailing. It was worth it all for the experience because the views of the dunes from this trail are great!

hiking
4 months ago

Wonderful hike ! Challenging for this short distance. The view is awesome !

hiking
5 months 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
5 months 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
5 months ago

Short distance but challenging hike with awesome views on all sides

hiking
5 months 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
5 months ago

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

5 months 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
6 months 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.

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