The 5 Best Hikes in Big Bend National Park

The Chisos Mountains and a portion of the Chihuahuan Desert are all within Big Bend National Park, which is bordered by the Rio Grande and has over 70 hiking paths to explore. On the South Rim and Marufo Vega Trails, experienced hikers can go on full-day hikes or overnight hiking trips, while novices can relax in the hot spring pool along the Hot Springs Historic Trail.

Several paths lead to some of the park’s most famous sites, such as the Santa Elena Canyon Trail’s multi-hued cliffs, the Grapevine Hills Trail’s balancing rock, and Emory Peak, the park’s highest point. Some people like the secret path of the Cattail Falls trail, while others choose the Lost Mine and Window Trails for moderate climbs. If any of that seems scary, the Window View Trail, which is short, family-friendly, and wheelchair-accessible, is a terrific place to start. Continue reading for a list of Big Bend National Park’s ten must-do hikes.

1. Hot Springs Historic Trail

Walk this trek to a hot spring next to the Rio Grande. The trip starts with a simple half-mile walk to the hot spring pool in the remains of J.O. Langford’s resort, which has waters that are 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue on the 1-mile loop walk for continuous views of the river from the cliff, or stay here and soak. Pictographs formed of red ochre drawn over layered limestone rock walls, over 15 distinct kinds of cacti, and remains of the Hot Springs Village may all be seen along the walk. Near the Rio Grande campsite, 2 miles down the gravel Hot Springs Road, you’ll find the trailhead.

2. Santa Elena Canyon Trail

The Santa Elena Canyon’s eponymous trail follows the peaceful waters of the Rio Grande through the 1,500-foot high Sierra Ponce rocks, with walls drenched in golden light. Hikers must walk across Terlingua Creek to reach the trailhead, which is located on top of a white and gray sedimentary rock hill, from the beach at the end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Despite its short length (1.6 miles round trip), it offers spectacular views of the canyon and, when the water level is low enough, the opportunity to hike upstream in the river itself. The hike, which is rated as easy, follows a path past scrub and cacti to another little beach where the river grows and is a popular choice for families.

3. Grapevine Hills Trail (Balanced Rock)

The Grapevine Hills Trail takes hikers through a space-like terrain of petrified rock, red velvet ants, and prickly pear cactus, and is known for its balanced rock boulders as well as a diversity of Chihuahuan Desert flora and wildlife. The hike is a 2.2-mile out-and-back track that can only be accessible by driving down Grapevine Spring, a 6-mile-long gravel road. For the most part, you can expect a flat, sandy trail, except for the last quarter mile to the balanced rock, which needs a climb uphill. Hikers can climb on the rocks at the top to get a 360-degree view of the Chihuahuan Desert.

4. Emory Peak Trail

This all-day, 10.5-mile round way climb takes you to Big Bend’s highest peak, Emory Peak (7,825 feet). Take the Pinnacles Trail for 3.5 miles from the Chisos Basin parking lot, passing through sections of forest and wildflowers until you reach the Emory Peak Trail Junction. The rest of the trail is rough and there is no shade. The final 25 feet demand a scramble up a vertical rockface, but the reward is aerial views of the basin at the summit. Along the trip, wildlife such as whitetail deer, Mexican jays, and black bears can be seen. Carry a gallon of water per person and plan on a six-hour hike.

5. Lost Mine Trail

On this rugged 4.8-mile round trip trek, you’ll stroll through a grove of juniper, fir, and pine trees and experience panoramic views of Juniper Canyon and Casa Grande. The trail has a constant, moderate rise until it reaches the ridge above Pine Canyon when it steepens dramatically before leveling out before Lost Mine Peak. The area is rich in mineral deposits and vegetation such as ocotillo and lechuguilla and is named after a legend about a mine created by Spanish immigrants and destroyed by Native Americans. Marker 10 viewpoint is a popular stopping point for people looking for a shorter climb with great views of the Chisos Mountains. The hike begins at mile 5.1 on Basin Junction Road.

Oladotun Olayemi
Oladotun Olayemi
Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.

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