Sand Canyon is a spectacular canyon in the central Owlshead Mountains which has a section of gigantic boulders, twin sand dunes at the end of the canyon, and a view of Owl Lake from the canyon head. Difficulties encountered on the hike include route finding to access the canyon and successfully climbing or bypassing a somewhat challenging bouldering section. Google Earth maps of the route which I used to explore the canyon can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 35° 44.814'N, 116° 32.502'W. GPS coordinates for the mouth of the canyon are 35° 44.682'N, 116° 34.819'W. GPS coordinates for the beginning of the bouldering section are 35° 44.674'N, 116° 35.422'W.
Sand Canyon is a canyon in the Owlshead Mountains which I first heard about over one year before hiking it. I have some friends who spent a fair amount of time hiking the Owlshead Mountains before I began my own explorations of the area, and they were the ones who first discovered this canyon and assigned an informal name to it. Now that my hike has been completed, I can say that Sand Canyon is the greatest canyon and best hike in the Owlshead Mountains by a landslide. Sand Canyon has everything -- a great entrance to the canyon, it is continuously narrow, it has a fun and challenging bouldering section, and most importantly it has a grand reward at the end. At the end of Sand Canyon there are two massive sand dunes, an upper and lower section. Both of those sections are visible in the logo image above (lower is on the left, upper is on the right). The dunes are the crowning beauty of the canyon. But the head of Sand Canyon also provides a stunning view and easy access to the basin at the other side of the range. I was shocked to climb up to the ridge just past the lower dune and see the southeastern section of Owl Lake. Owl Lake was so close I easily could have walked there in about an hour. The only reason I didn't was that I had already been there earlier on my Spring 2010 trip and I was running extremely low on water. (It was 90F and I only had about 20 ounces of water left for the return hike). But it's amazing that Owl Lake is actually reachable as a day hike from the Harry Wade Road. It would probably be better done as a backpacking trip. In fact, that would make for an outstanding night sleeping out on Owl Lake looking up at all the stars in perfect solitude. The other thing appealing about Sand Canyon is that it has one of the shortest hikes to the canyon mouth from the Harry Wade Road of any of the Owlshead canyons. All I can say is what an incredible place and I definitely will be coming back to Sand Canyon for multiple visits in the years to come. The entire hike is about 6 miles each way with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain spread out quite nicely. If you only ever do one hike in the Owlshead Mountains in your lifetime, make sure that it is this one. As a side note, my friend Scott spotted a desert tortoise during his hike of Sand Canyon and you can see a picture of that on the Wildlife Page here on the site. Our hike took place on March 17, 2010.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT