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Sand Canyon Trail is a 12.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cortez, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 12.4 mi Elevation gain 1,965 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Kid friendly Hiking Horseback riding Mountain biking Nature trips Bird watching Running Cave Views Wild flowers Wildlife Rocky Washed out No shade
Description
Waypoints (8)

This trail provides beautiful views of the canyons. Pass by ancestral Puebloan ruins on your way to the top. The hike begins fairly easy but, the final miles of the trail are the most challenging. There are many side trails off of the main path to explore the area. This version of the trail extends past the trail markings to San Canyon Pueblo. Feel free to turn around before reaching the pueblo.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (256)
Photos (280)
Recordings (232)
Completed (391)
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Evonne McArthur
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 10, 2020
Hiking
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Eric Meyer
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Hiking
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Aaron Estep
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Hiking
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Brewster Jennings
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Off Road Driving
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Eric Rosenthal
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 5, 2020
Hiking

I started out planning to do the Rock Creek loop version, but when I saw the signs along the trail, I realized that most of the cliff ruins would be on the Sand Canyon Trail. So, I went that way and turned around at 4 miles. I don't know that there is much reason to climb up the steep part anyway, other than for the exercise. There are a lot of cliff sites to see on the trail. Posts with white diamond markers tell you when there is a side trail that gets you up under the various ruins (but not into them). Some of the ruins are pretty much destroyed. If you want to see more intact structures, I feel like some of the ruins in the Cedar Mesa area around Blanding, UT are in better condition. Besides the cliff ruins, the scenery is also excellent. On the way back I did a loop including some of the Rock Creek Trail. There were a few cliff sites along that trail as well. I started early enough to avoid the higher temps, and had things pretty much to myself the entire hike. My route worked out to just over 10 miles, which was maybe 2 miles more than I needed, but no regrets.

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Emily Beam
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 1, 2020
Hiking

Great views of the canyon. Not a lot of shade. Got turned around on a few of the spur offs.

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Dan Piette
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 30, 2020
Hiking

Very sunny, desert hike. we only went about about 2.5 miles bet were able to see several sites. there are two trail heads coming from Cortez, we stopped at the first one. not many people on the trail, but it was very enjoyable.

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Brewster Jennings
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Off Road Driving
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Vionna Lo
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Hiking
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Jeffrey Hale
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Hiking
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Jeffrey Hale
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Hiking
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Jeffrey Hale
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Hiking
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Kylee Shirakawa
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Hiking

Started around 8:40am and turned back just after the beginnings of the switchbacks, got back to the parking lot around 12:30. Would highly recommend an early start! Some shade but lots of sun exposure.

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Liz Wingerter
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Hiking
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John Horstman
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Hiking
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Molly Burtis
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Hiking

We did this as a 5 mile out and back because that’s what we were feeling. But absolutely blown away by the views throughout. Want to come back and complete the full trail! Highly recommend!

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Erin Kean
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 10, 2020
Hiking

Really great hike with a view. Several Peublo cliff homes along the way. Relatively flat overall

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Kim Decker
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Hiking
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Sue Grant
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Nature trips

Beautiful! Mostly flat.

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Daniel McVaugh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 24, 2020
Hiking

Got started just before sunrise. Temp was 57. Finished 6 hrs 20 mins including time to see all the ruins and stop to eat. Temp at end was 93. Went through almost 3 liters perf water. Great hike, start as early as possible to beat the heat.

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J Che
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2020
Hiking

Very nice trail. We turned back around 3 miles, didn’t bring enough water walking under August heat.

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Cynthia Weisbecker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

I loved the trail. Unfortunately, I got heat exhaustion half way through the hike and my daughter had to hike back to get the car and pick my husband and me up. Late start, over 100 degree day and altitude lead to my demise. After it was over, some the locals told me that they only do that trail in winter. Live and learn. The ruins and the landscape were amazing and I would do that trail again in a heartbeat.

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S DeCourcy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2020

This trail is a mixed bag for me. We hiked about 4 miles out/back from the lower trail head. The good: it was remote/quiet, the trail was well marked and well maintained. The bad: August (should have known better), no shade, NO facilities at the trailhead. Worst, for us, was that the ruins were unimpressive and almost invisible to a non-archaeologist. The cliff structures at Mesa Verde and the mesa-top structures at Hovenweep are in much better shape. If you want to avoid the crowds, Hovenweep is your best bet. I would be interested in doing this trail again in cool weather, it was pretty country.

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HD Wolters
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 18, 2020
Hiking

Good trail. We cut off on one of the connector trails to make it a loop. Still plenty of ruins to see. There are enough trail maps to show options.

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Chris Schneider
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Hiking

Beautiful

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Brian S
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Probably the best trial in the park - but Canyon of the Ancients is sort of underwhelming as a whole. I'd do about half of this and turn back unless you're really enjoying it.

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Phillip Russell
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Nature tripsNo shade

Nice walk, a little muddy and just enough up and down to be interesting.

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Dana Andrews
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

Well-marked trail. We enjoyed hiking it with our toddler on back. Bring lots of sunscreen.

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