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Santa Elena Canyon Trail
3 Photosets

2021-02-17  
2012-09-17  
2007-04-23  
mini location map2021-02-17
15 by photographer avatarmarkthurman53
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Santa Elena Canyon TrailBig Bend, TX
Big Bend, TX
Hiking avatar Feb 17 2021
markthurman53
Hiking3.19 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking3.19 Miles   1 Hour   14 Mns   2.59 mph
500 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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mamakatt22
On our second day in Big Bend we started out on the southwest side of the park on the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. This is a short 4 mile round trip hike along the Rio Grande River where it exits from Mesa De Anguila . The Rio Grande is quite impressive here as it exits the mesa through a narrow canyon with sheer 1500 foot walls. This north-south trending mesa is the up thrust side of a horst and graben fault. The river will exit the park through another narrow canyon on the east side of the park through the other side of this horst and graben fault pair. I saw this canyon a few years ago while hiking in the Chisos Mountains and was determined that the next time I’m in this park to check it out.

The trailhead is at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive about 8 miles past Castolon. 100 yards from the trailhead you are on the river with Mexico on the other side. The trail heads upstream and climbs about 100 feet via a series of switchbacks. From here the river can be seen below. The trail continues upstream and gradually makes it down to the river again. There are gigantic house sized boulders alongside the river that came from the cliffs above that literally tower straight up above you. You can’t help but hope there isn’t an earthquake while you are in the canyon. The trail follows along the river until at about 2 miles in there is no place to go without a boat. The 1500 feet of limestone cliffs are quite impressive.

This is a fairly easy trail and like the window trail, worth doing if you are in this section of the park. At times when the river is running full the trail probably ends a half mile sooner. The GPS route for this hike is a little messed up because of the lack of satellite signal while in the canyon.
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