Sand Canyon Trail
Photo Courtesy of John Fitzpatrick
Part of the Sand Canyon Trails System.
Sand Canyon Trail is a moderate/difficult out-and-back trail. Sand Canyon Trail is 6.3 miles each way and 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. Located near Cortez, Colorado and situated in the deserts of the southwest, this National Monument boasts the largest concentration of Pueblo Indian (Anasazi) ruins in the U.S. with about 6000 recorded archaeological sites! These are just the sites that have been recorded and documented. The popular Sand Canyon Trail is 6.5 miles (one-way) from Sand Canyon Pueblo down to the lower trailhead in McElmo Canyon. The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling, but the upper section is steep and rugged– not recommended for bicycles. Part of the singletrack dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with rock cairns. Combining the main canyon trail with other trails, such as the East Rock Creek Trail, makes for an enjoyable loop. Do not enter structures, climb on walls, take or move artifacts, or touch rock art–the oils on your skin accelerate deterioration of this rare evidence of past lives. Collect nothing and leave what you see for others to enjoy. Pack out your trash and do not leave “offerings.” These only confuse the meaning of the sites.
Map & Directions
Map Coordinates: 37.370225, -108.794689
Where's the Trailhead?
dIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD
From 9th Street and Main Avenue in Durango, head west on 9th Street toward Camino Del Rio. Turn right onto US-160 West. After passing through the Town of Cortez, turn right onto County Road G. Sand Canyon is on your right and there are is a secondary parking area just before the main trailhead with a trail from the parking area leading to the main trail system.
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