Wellington Ditch

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 8297 - 8370 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Piñon Flats Campground
Fee: $15/vehicle
Attractions: Views of dunes, deer




The Wellington Ditch trail is in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the San Luis Valley of southcentral Colorado. The park is home to the highest dunes in North America as well as wetlands, grasslands and alpine forests. The trail begins in the Piñon Flats Campground and stretches for about 1 mile to the old Montville townsite where it ends near the junction of the Montville Nature trail and the Mosca Pass trail.


The trailhead is in Loop 3 of the campground.


As the trail begins it travels through a sparse forest of piñon and juniper trees.


It is common to see deer and sometimes elk most anywhere in the area. Dogs are allowed on the Wellington Ditch trail but they must be kept on a leash and not allowed to chase after the wildlife.


The trail itself is easy to hike for the most part. It tends to have a hard packed dirt base that becomes rocky in places.


The main course of the trail follows an irrigation ditch that the Wellington family had dug by hand from Mosca Creek to Buck Creek back in 1927.


The ruins of an old homestead cabin can still be seen below the trail.


From several vantage points there are good views of the dunes.


With the trail gaining a little elevation as it heads south toward Montville it isn't too hard to figure out which way the water would have been flowing.


Most of the 70 feet of elevation gain that the trail makes comes as it travels around the mountain just before reaching the Mosca Creek drainage.


It must have felt like quite an accomplishment coaxing a ditch out of the rocky mountain side.


The turnaround point comes up as the trail meets up with the Montville Nature trail. To extend the hike you can travel around the Nature trail and hike it or you can follow it to the Montville to Visitor Center trail which will add about 3-4 tenths of a mile to the one-way distance. The Mosca Pass trail which starts just a few feet to the left on the Nature trail is also an option.


On the trip back there are some nice views of the dunes and the towering peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to enjoy.


The Wellington Ditch trail is a nice excursion and a good alternative to hiking on the dunes. The trail is an especially nice family hike for people staying in the Piñon Flats Campground. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.