This less visited hike is rarely far from creeks large and small. Steeper cascades, waterfalls, and frothing streams create an icicle wonderland during the coldest winter weeks and the deeper pools can be great for you or your four legged friend during the hot summer days.
And don't miss the trails namesake to watch the water rapidly bubbling up from the spring's white sandy bottom.
Trail is in state game lands so be sure to wear orange, especially late fall and winter. No facilities at the parking lot but the interstate exit is less than two miles away with gas station and several fast food places.
Recommend doing the loop counter-clockwise so you go down the biggest and steepest hill.
From the parking lot, follow the gravel road past the gate and then, in a few hundred feet, take the blue-blazed singletrack Sand Spring Trail
that splits off to the left. Farther up the trail there are a couple unmarked trails on the left that can be optionally followed a very short distance out to the bank of the creek where there is a wooden bench.
The main trail eventually turns left and crosses the creek which usually requires some rock hopping (after heavy rain it may be difficult to keep feet dry). Continuing on, there are a few more smaller stream crossings, two steeper climbs, and several opportunities to enjoy a quick departure from the trail to another creek that it's roughly following.
At around 1.25 miles in, the trail turns right and follows the creek upstream. There are some deeper pools along this section of creek that dogs can easily enjoy (think kiddie pool, more wading than swimming). This section can also require some rock hopping to stay dry, especially after heavy rains.
After going up the creek just a few hundred feet, the trail crosses over to the left and scrambles up some boulders. The trail remains rocky for the next few hundred feet, but keep your eyes open near the end of this for the sand spring sign and side trail on the left (about 1.5 miles in). This leads a few dozen feet to the actual spring where water is bubbling up through white sand in many spots into the large pool of water.
Back on the main trail, it continues for another half mile before reaching a three-side rock-walled spring and to the left the orange blazed Tom Lowe Trail
which you'll take to continue the loop.
Follow the orange blazes left uphill, and the trail soon joins with a wider path that was cut for a controlled burn. The original Tom Lowe Trail
can occasionally be seen running parallel for short distances, but pay attention as you'll need to follow the orange blazes when it completely splits from the wide path.
After leaving the wide path, there is a steep downhill. This is followed by a gentler downhill and eventually a simple bridge crossing over a creek. After crossing, the trail roughly follows the creek and, at some point, there is an optional but easily missed small, unmarked trail on the left that goes down a steep bank a few dozen feet to the to the creek where there is a wood bench at the foot of a small series of waterfalls/cascades.
There are a few more creek crossings further on the main trail before coming to a small clearing and a doubletrack forest road. Follow the doubletrack road, and in a few hundred feet, watch for the orange blazes and trail continuing on the left.
The final creek crossing comes near the end of the hike and it can be difficult to stay completely dry on this crossing (especially after heavy rain). It may be better to look up or downstream a bit if you really don't want to get wet feet. But after crossing it's less than a quarter mile to the parking lot. The trail will lead back to the road where you'll turn left and find the parking lot.