North Sand Hills
Jackson County, Colorado
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Nearby Towns: Cowdrey, Walden
Nearby Trails: Mendenhall, North Sand Dunes Road
Season: Year Round
Elevation: 8,450 to 8,558 feet
Recommended by Sean G.
You can't experience anything else like this in Colorado. Motor vehicles aren't allowed on the Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado, so Northern Colorado is your only option for sand. You can drive anywhere on any of the sand you find.
There are a couple flat areas of sand the size of a few football fields where you can do donuts and race in the sand. These areas also have smaller hills in them that are perfect for jumping if you can get going fast enough (it's hard to do that in sand in a 4x4 vehicle). There are always lots of motorcycles, ATVs and dune buggies to watch, and they can really get going.
The rest of the area is a network of trails that are mostly sand (though some are dirt) that weave their way around the area. You can't get lost and you can easily spend all day here exploring. We've provided a map and GPX track of one of the many possible ways through the sand. Just be sure you can get back up any hills you go down.
The area consists of two large patches of sand that are flat in the middle with hills on the sides. The northern and eastern edges are bordered by a creek and some of the steeper hills are on these sides. Most of the hills are too steep to climb back up and though there are trails in the dirt and trees on the other side, most of these trails are only wide enough for ATVs.
If you want to air down before you get on the rocky dirt road on the way to the Sand Hills you can pull into the Lake Cowdrey area from the highway (there is a sign to your left if you are headed north).
Information last updated on July 22nd, 2011.
There are a few different ways to get there but the most scenic route from Denver is through the Cache La Poudre River Valley and over Cameron Pass. From Denver, take I-25 north to the Ft. Collins exit 269B and head west. Follow signs through town to Highway 14 north. You will make a left turn at Ted's Place (a gas station) to continue to follow Highway 14 into the Valley. In Walden, turn left at the stop sign, then right onto Route 125 to Cowdrey. Just past Cowdrey turn left to air down at Lake Cowdrey or continue on to the dirt road on your right marked 2509. Follow signs to the North Sand Hills.
An alternate route is to take I-70 west from Denver to Highway 40 north on exit 232. Highway 40 will take you to Highway 125 and Walden.
If everyone is coming from the Denver area, meet at the McDonald's at I-25 exit 240. If you want to meet further north meet at Ted's Place on Highway 14 north of Fort Collins.