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