Sand Canyon Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,381' 421 m
Descent: -39' -12 m
High: 6,840' 2,085 m
Low: 5,498' 1,676 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)
Current trail conditions
Popular rides nearby
Canyons of the Ancients Loop.
7.5 mi 12.1 km • Out and Back • 791 ft Ascent 240.95 m Ascent
Singletrack Cortez, CO( 16 )
26.8 mi 43.1 km • Loop • 2,059 ft Ascent 627.67 m Ascent
Singletrack Cortez, CO( 189 )
Boggy Draw Loop
8.4 mi 13.5 km • Loop • 508 ft Ascent 154.79 m Ascent
Singletrack Cortez, CO( 23 )
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“A great out and back trip with many ancient pueblos along the way.”— Kevin Christopherson
The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, but the upper section is steep and rugged. Part of the singletrack dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with rock cairns. The trail could be shuttled by leaving one vehicle at Sand Canyon Pueblo, and leave a second vehicle at the bottom (south) end of the trail in McElmo Canyon. There is a very steep section with 30 switchbacks about 4.5 miles into the ride. It's only about 1/2 mile and will be a hike-a-bike for most people. Because it's uphill from the McElmo parking lot, you can turn around anytime and enjoy the downhill back to your vehicle.
To reach the McElmo Canyon trailhead, head south of Cortez on Highway 491. Turn right (west) on County Road G at the signs for the airport and/or Hovenweep National Monument. Go 12 miles on this paved road. Trailhead parking is an unimproved slickrock surface on the north (right) side of the road. No water, toilet, or other services are available.