Trail Run Project Logo

Music Pass Trail to Upper Sand Creek Lake



8.4 mile 13.5 kilometer out and back
81% Runnable


Ascent: 1,858' 566 m
Descent: -1,858' -566 m
High: 11,739' 3,578 m
Low: 10,690' 3,258 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Run over the saddle, into a beautiful valley, and up to a high mountain lake that is full of trout.

Andrew Todd

Features Fall Colors · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildlife

The Music Pass Road up to this trailhead is a challenging 4x4 road (but I got my Volvo XC90 up it, if that is any indication). The lake is frozen from winter through to June. Early season runners (i.e. May - June) will likely see deep snow along the upper elevations of this trail.


This run is only for the adventurous. A remote and quiet run up to a beautiful valley and high mountain lake will make the climbs on this run well worth the effort.

Need to Know

The Music Pass road is tricky, but doable by high clearance vehicles with AWD or 4WD. There is no water on this trail until about mile 2.4, and then you'll need a filter for the creek and lake water. Bring a camera. And your fly rod.

Runner Notes

This is a great trail that runs from the Music Pass trailhead to Upper Sand Creek Lake, a high mountain lake that is full of hybrid cutthroat trout. The run climbs for about a mile to the top of Music Pass. Stop for a moment here to climb up and get a view of the spectacular Sand Creek Valley. Descend approximately 1 mile to the trail junction, and stay right to head to the lakes (there is a sign at this junction). After another .3 miles or so, there will be a second trail junction with signs directing you to Lower or Upper Sand Creek Lakes. Lower Sand Creek Lake Trail is a nice 1 mile climb to a lake that is absolutely teeming with hybrid cutthroat trout. Upper Sand Creek Lake (this run) has fewer fish, but they are much larger. Both lakes are absolutely jaw-dropping.


To get to this trailhead, you'll have to get to Westcliffe (a cool little Colorado town), drive a ways south, and then drive up a somewhat technical mountain pass. This run climbs up and over a ridge into the beautiful Sand Creek basin, the northern "preserve" portion of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. There are no Sand Dunes in this part, but there are a ton of trout. There are trout in the stream, and in both of the spectacular lakes at the end of each trail. Definitely bring a fly rod on this adventure. Thank me later.

The trail starts by climbing the first mile to the top of Music Pass on Music Pass Trail. You'll climb through the woods for about half a mile before emerging into a more exposed area on the way to the summit of Music Pass. At the top of the pass, take a few moments and head to the West, through the trees, and climb up the small hill that overlooks the Sand Creek valley to the West. There are spectacular views all around.

The descent into the Sand Creek basin is relatively steep, with some loose footing. Once you make it to the trail junction at the base of the hill, make a right to go up to Upper Sand Creek Lake on the Upper Sand Creek Trail. Or stop to fish Sand Creek itself, which has outstanding fly fishing for hybrid cutthroat trout. When you are ready to continue on follow signs to the lakes (stay right).

The trail continues another ~0.4 miles to another trail junction. Stay right to climb to Upper Sand Creek Lake. After taking in the scenery of the spectacular lake and enjoying the fly fishing in the solitude, return back the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Bear, deer, bighorn sheep, hybrid cutthroat trout.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

History & Background

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In



Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes


  4.6 from 5 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Run Rankings


in Colorado


60 Views Last Month
9,997 Since Nov 4, 2015



KT with a giant hybrid cutthroat trout from Upper Sand Creek Lake.
Nov 4, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Small waterfalls in the drainage along the primitive trail.
Sep 8, 2016 near Crestone, CO
Big Horn in the Valley, June 2014.
Sep 7, 2016 near Crestone, CO
On top of Music Pass looking down on Sand Creek basin.
Aug 14, 2018 near Crestone, CO


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running