High Dune Trail

HARD 136 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.

5 days ago

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

hiking
12 days 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
12 days 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
12 days ago

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

13 days 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
16 days 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
23 days ago

Great hike!

hiking
25 days ago

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

hiking
30 days ago

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

1 month ago

Hiking sticks are a huge help.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiking sticks are a big help

hiking
1 month 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!

1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
2 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
2 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
2 months ago

Short distance but challenging hike with awesome views on all sides

hiking
2 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
2 months ago

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

2 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
3 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.

hiking
3 months 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
4 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
4 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.

4 months ago

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

hiking
4 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

4 months ago

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

6 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
7 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.

8 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!

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