In Sandy Hills, the playable characters are stuck running down the level's road and can only move left and right between the road's four lanes (akin to the Quick Step). While running, the player can pick up powerups from Item Boxes and utilize the gimmicks native to this track.
Sandy Hills has many environmental obstacles which the player can either jump over, roll under or move around. Running into one of these obstacles will result in the player taking damage and lose some of their Rings. Falling into bottomless pits on the other hand forces the player to restart from an earlier point on the track.
The racers will begin by running around a snaking section of track. There are a number of hurdles here, with Rings placed above them and Item Boxes placed behind them. The racers will continue forward through a set of Triple Dash Pads, eventually reaching a split in the path. The lanes on the left feature Dash Panels and Item Boxes, while the one on the right contains more Rings. The racers will then navigate several sections of track containing obstacles, as well as two more sets of Triple Dash Pads, before coming to the final section of the track. There is a set of Grind Rails, hurdles, and Dash Panels here placed directly before the finish line.