Sand Canyon Trail

4.38 out of 5
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↑ 4,700 ft
↓ 2,900 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
Route is thru slickrock and singletrack. Thru indian sites, please do not go off trail or bikes will be banned. Built by and for mountain bikes these trails are fun and hard to follow. 2 canyons to ride. There is a large ruin at the top of Sand Canyon main trail but involves a 30 switchback hard climb, not the fun MTB route.
added by abegoldDoubletrack
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
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Trail Q&A
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Recommended Trails
Recommended Trails
Phil's World
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
what's this?
Recent Trail Check-ins     (18 total check-ins)
  Fatbike1   on Jul 28, 2019
  kylemontgomery@hushmail.   on May 11, 2019
  enasman   on May 4, 2019
  straubad   on Oct 5, 2018
  nickc   on Apr 14, 2018
Photo & Video Gallery (12)
Trail Photos & Videos (12)
Reviews (8)


March 31, 2016
rhulsey Gnarly  
Review: The Sand Canyon Trail is only part of the trail system at the Canyon of the Ancients. It is a straight through or out-and-back trail that wanders up one of the main canyons. Most of it is pretty tame, with some slick rock but mostly a very wide natural red dirt trail. Watch for hikers.

We actually went over the ridge to the west, through a saddle about 1.7 miles up the Sand Canyon Trail, to the East Fork Rock Creek canyon. The trail over the saddle had a couple of fairly sketchy parts that quite a few will want to walk. Once in the canyon, the upper end can be pretty technical but won't require too much hike-a-bike for most. The lower canyon and the cross over the lower end of the ridge back to the parking lot is a very nice ride (again, combo of slick rock and red dirt).

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August 19, 2015
Review: Sand Canyon is technical. Other reviewers ave not mentioned that much of this trail requires accurate, precise, and skilled technical riding. Take your light weight, short wheelbase, tubeless, 1x bike, and your chops. This area does not reward inattentiveness or "sightseeing" though the scenery is stellar. Come back with a camera and hike it if you want to take in the area.

Similar Trail: Verrado

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January 14, 2014
Review: Not a big fan of riding here. Felt like a lot of on and off, flat tires (cactus) and while the area is inspiring, the riding really is not. Better to hit Phils, or Moab for similar yet superior riding.

Similar Trail: Phils World

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April 20, 2012
abegold Doubletrack  
Review: Almost religious experience here with the ancient spirits and desert air calm. Sleeping Ute Mountain is just to the south. A trail you'll not forget, so amazing having ancient ruins right off the trail. Pinion/juniper forest, some pine.

Similar Trail: Phil's World

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Granny Gear

October 2, 2010
Review: I made it about 3/4 mile up the main Sand Canyon Trail. I was looking for a fun ride and this was just too punishing. Turned around and took the East Canyon trail. The east canyon is a blast. There are a few parts with loose sand, but for the most part it is rock and dirt. There are also a few patches where all but very experienced riders are going to get off and walk. Suck up your pride and save yourself the injury. This isn't sweet, smooth single track; expect to work, but it is worth it.

* Review edited 10/2/2010

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March 5, 2009
Review: You ride thru an ancient Anasazi Indian village with ruins. Don't take the trail to Sand Canyon Pueblo unless you want a long punishing climb with 30 switchbacks. Stay left. You'll ride mainly in east and west Rock Canyon, trails built by mountain bikers for mountain biking so great fun. Trail surface is slickrock and dirt, not sand.

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November 7, 2008
Review: Starts on slickrock and trails wind thru ancient Anasazi village with ruins. Take east and west Rock Canyon trails, avoid trail to Sand Canyon ruins unless you wnat a punishing climb. Trails built by mountian bikers, great flow and some tech. Best in spring or autumn. You may feel the spirits.

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June 17, 2007
arnolda14 Trailblazer  
Review: I can't write a full review as we were forced back after 1.8 miles in, but I am uploading a short video and a pic. As for what we did ride, it was awesome. You start on some slickrock that transitions to hard packed red dirt, both of which are great tread. There are small ruins all over this area and some are easier to see than others. The ruins are more delicate than they look and so is the landscape so stay on the trail. Even walking on the dirt can do years of damage in this environment. This is a hot, dry desert environment, so bring extra water.

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Sand Canyon Trail MTB Trail 4.38 out of 5 based on 8 ratings. 8 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed
Feature Article
Native American Cliff Dwellings and Mountain Biking in Cortez, Colorado