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Mosca Pass Trail



3.6 mile 5.8 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,546' 471 m
Descent: -3' -1 m
High: 9,718' 2,962 m
Low: 8,176' 2,492 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)


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Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

A steady climb with incredible views of the Great Sand Dunes and foothills of the Sangre de Cristos.

Kristen Arendt

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly A fairly easy trail with great views. Turn back whenever you want!


Mosca Pass Trail is easily accessed from the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center parking lot. Pick up the trail at the north end of the parking lot and cross 150. From here, you'll start the steady climb up the pass. There is another small parking lot located up the road from the visitor center where you can also park and start your hike.

Mosca Pass Trail follows Mosca Creek as it winds through aspens and evergreens. While it is a singletrack trail and there are some rocks and roots to avoid, overall the footing on this trail allows you to keep your eyes on the scenery as you climb up into the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

The first part of the trail is situated in a small valley and you won't have very many expansive views unless you turn around and look back the way you came. Around two miles, you begin to emerge from the creek drainage to more expansive meadows where you can enjoy the view.

The trail ends in an open meadow at County Rd. 583 and while this may endpoint may at first seem unimpressive and not worth the effort you just put in to climb the pass, just turn around and get ready to enjoy the views on your way back down. The steady climb has earned you some spectacular views of the sand dunes framed by the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos.

Flora & Fauna

Pinon pine, aspens, narrow-leaf cottonwoods, ponderosa pines, and blue spruce. You will see variety of wildflowers in the late spring/early summer such as Indian paintbrush, pasque flowers, candytuft, coral bells, shooting star, fireweed, and columbines.

Deer, elk, squirrels, rabbits, hawks, jays, ravens, magpies, woodpeckers, and a variety of other birds. Mountain lions, bobcats, and black bears also inhabit the higher altitudes of the Sangre de Cristos, and while you probably won't see them on your hike, be aware that they are active in the area.

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Oct 6, 2019
russell@russellweller.com Weller
11h 00m
Sep 9, 2019
Scott S
Elevation change total of about 14400 ft 7.5mi — 11h 30m
Jun 22, 2019
David Hitchcock
Hiked up and back in the middle of the day. It's a nice walk through the woods, very different from the Dunes. 7mi
May 16, 2019
Jason Davenport
3.6mi — 15h 00m
Apr 20, 2019
Andrea Johnson
Apr 14, 2018
Sylvia Iverson
Oct 4, 2017
Anna Schwyter
Alex Duncan 25 yo birthday, hail storm
Sep 18, 2017
Ron Batcher
Great trail. Not many places for good photos. 8.2mi

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 10 votes


  3.8 from 10 votes
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in Colorado


66 Views Last Month
2,997 Since Sep 29, 2015



Mad for Mosca
May 26, 2018 near Westcliffe, CO
Approaching the summit of Mosca Pass Trail.
Sep 12, 2016 near Westcliffe, CO
Returning from the upper trailhead
May 8, 2018 near Westcliffe, CO
Midway up the trail looking back toward the dunes.
Sep 21, 2019 near Westcliffe, CO
Great Sand Dunes from the Mosca Pass Trail
May 8, 2018 near Westcliffe, CO
Returning to the wilderness
May 8, 2018 near Westcliffe, CO


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