Great Sand Dunes National Park Hikes
Mosca Pass Overview
Mosca Pass is a 9,000 ft. pass over the rugged Sangre de Cristo Range in Colorado. The scenic trail follows part of the old Mosca Pass Toll Road. The trail climbs gently through an aspen forest before acending steeply on the side of a rocky gorge. The are many views of the Great Sand Dunes from this part of the trail. Soon the trails levels out and rolls up and down through aspen meadows.
Scenery: 4 Stars
Length: 7 miles round trip to the pass, out and back
The start of the Mosca Pass Trail is on the Montville Nature Trail. If you grab an interpretive guide at the trailhead, you can learn about the old toll road and the small town of Montville. Soon after your gentle hike in the aspens on the Montville Nature Trail, you enter the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. The nature trail branches of to the left, but the trail to the pass goes up the hill.
Shortly after the trail junction, the rocky trail climbs past an impressive set of cliffs.
After the cliffs, the trail curves around the head of many small gullies. Then, it crosses a rocky outcropping with great views of the dunes to the west. The trail does this almost ten times before entering aspen meadows. Once in the meadows, the climb relents and the trail becomes gentle. The meadows have a great display of wildflowers during early summer.
High Dune is the third highest sand dune in North America. The highest is 1.5 to the west of High Dune's summit. The hike to the top is only 3 miles round trip, but is a grueling climb of 650 ft. over shifting sand dunes. The trailhead for this hike is just past the Visitor Center down a road to the left. There is no offical trail to the top. Just following the ridges to the top of the dunes.
Scenery: 5 Stars
Length: 3 miles out and back
Medano Creek is a large creek that runs below the dunes in the spring and early summer. Crossing this creek is your first challenge on the way to High Dune.