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Mule Ears Trail, TX

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Difficulty 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,882 feet
Elevation Gain 276 feet
Accumulated Gain 423 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.01
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
Post the 1st photoset!
Author markthurman53
author avatar Guides 162
Routes 683
Photos 7,885
Trips 532 map ( 4,888 miles )
Age 67 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:55am - 7:55pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Pair of Ears and a Spring Trail
by markthurman53


The Rio Grande River comes down out of Colorado, heads south through New Mexico, and passes through El Paso Texas where it now becomes the border between the United States and Mexico. The river flows 1254 miles in a southeast direction toward the Gulf of Mexico, but before getting there, it turns to the North East, creating a momentary bend in the river; this Is Big Bend National Park. The mountains in this park are a continuation of a mountain range in Mexico that will continue into the US through Guadalupe National Park and New Mexico. The highest point in this park is Emory Peak, at 7800 feet. This park is probably one of the remotest parks in the contiguous United States. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, it has a lot to offer in hiking, camping, and general sightseeing.


The Mule Ears are a volcanic rock outcrop on the southwest flank of the Chisos Mountains that look like, you guessed it, mule ears. The Mule Ears are quite prominent along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Road once you pass over Burro Mesa. This 3.6-mile trail starts at the Mule Ears overlook and ends at the junction of the Smokey Creek trail in Smoky Creek. Besides the remarkable views along the trail of the mule ears, the trail also crosses over Mule Ears Spring.

The trailhead for the Mule ears Trail is at a signed parking area along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. The trail starts at the Mule Ears overlook, where there is an excellent view of the mule ears. This trail is easy to follow with about 400 feet of elevation gain over 3 miles. At 2 miles in, the trail crosses Mule Ears Spring which was flowing pretty well when we were here in Early Spring. The cattails and ferns were growing near the spring, and the brush was pretty thick. The remains of an old rock corral are also near the spring.

At about 3 miles, the trail reaches its highest point before making a 300-foot descent into Smokey Creek. If you decide that you don’t need to go down to Smokey creek and make the 300-foot descent, this is a good turnaround point. The Smokey Creek Trail starts at the end of the Mule Ears Trail and heads north, eventually connecting up with the Dodson Trail nine miles later. The point of all this about the Smokey creek Trail is that if you get to the end of the Mule Ears Trail, you have no other option but to return the way you came. There are some great views of the Mule Ears in the area near the junction.

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2021-05-22 markthurman53

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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.

    Permit $$

    Big Bend National Park
    Big Bend Fees and Registration

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the West
    Along Interstate 20 at Van Horn, exit south on hwy 90 to Alpine, Texas. Take 118 south to Big Bend National Park entrance. Follow park road to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Road.

    From the East
    Along Interstate 20 at Fort Stockton, take 385 south to Marathon, Texas. Continue south to Big Bend National Park entrance. Follow park road to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Road.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on May 22 2021 9:13 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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