“A fairly arduous trail skirting the northeastern edge of the dunes.”
— Kristen Arendt
Features: Views — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
Be ready for a sandy run. Much of this trail is on sandy, soft soil along the foothills, and while the elevation gain isn't drastic, the effort required to run this distance with this footing can be taxing. If you are planning on running the entire trail, allow more time than normal for the distance and be sure to bring water and an extra pair of socks to ward off blisters.
The Sand Ramp Trail is most commonly used to access the various backcountry campsites along the foothills of the dunes. It isn't necessarily a scenic destination as it skirts the dunes at the same elevation along the base of the mountains meaning that the scenery is fairly uniform along the way.
You can starting running on the Sand Ramp Trail either from Loop 2 of the campground or at the Point of No Return Parking area. Note that while Medano Pass Road from the campground up to Point of No Return parking area is designated as a 2WD road, it is best to have a vehicle with some ground clearance and ideally 4WD to get to Point of No Return. After this, Medano Pass Road turns to a primitive 4x4 road and high clearance and 4WD will be necessary to navigate the sand, creeks, and rocks along the way.
After the first two miles, much of this trail is, at best, sandy soil, and in some places pure sand. You'll also be running up and down along the foothills, so this combination of factors can make this run quite grueling. Allow for more time than the mileage indicates and come prepared as the trail is more isolated.
If you are interested in backcountry camping at one of the seven primitive sites along Sand Ramp Trail, you must obtain a free permit at the Visitor Center. Permits are granted on a first come, first served basis.
Flora & Fauna
Ponderosa pine, aspen, narrow-leaf cottonwood, pinon pine, rocky mountain juniper, yucca, prickly pear cactus and a variety of wildflowers in late spring/early summer.
Elk, deer, pronghorns, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Birds such as pine siskins, juncos, bluebirds, robins, grosbeaks, magpies, ravens, hawks, and woodpeckers. 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 run, be aware that they are active in the area.