Burning Blaze of Color...
Though a great little hike most any time of the year, the real treasure is to hit this hike during the height of the fall colors. The reds, yellows, golds and greens are stunning at that time of year. The velvet ash, Texas madrone, bigtooth maple, pine and numerous other shrub and tree varieties fill the narrow gorge with an amazing glut of color. Contrasted against the bleached white river rock bottom, and the multi-colored surrounding cliffs it combines to create a veritable wonderland. Even without the seasonal display, this is a great hike. On my last trip up there I encountered some hikers just about to enter the canyon and they asked me if it was worth going up into. My response:"... the very neat thing about this winding adventure is that around each turn you are gifted with a great surprise, and each one is a bit better than the last... the deeper you go, the better it gets." I came upon them later towards the end of the day. They made a point of confirming what I had said; it just got better and better the further up they went.
The park service marks the end of this trail 2.1 miles up the Pine Springs drainage, just past the signature landmark area: Devils Hall, an extremely narrow, high walled section. Exiting the other end of the Hall is a boulder field that makes for a nice stopping point. If that is as far as you go, it will have been a great hike.
The drainage does continue on for more miles... interesting exploration for those with more energy to spare.
This hike begins at the trailhead for Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. There are campgrounds, ranger station and restrooms with drink dispensers. There is an entry fee required for parking; good for seven days. National Park annual passes are valid for entry and parking. There is a sign in/out log at the trailhead.
No camping is allowed up this drainage. All backcountry camping is by permit only and only in designated areas in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park area.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.