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The Best Hikes in Big Bend NP National Park

41 Triplog Reviews in the Big Bend NP National Park
Most recent of 10 deeper Triplog Reviews
10 mi • 90 ft aeg
Day three of the Outer Mountain Loop, Big Bend NP. We started off from the ridge we had hunkered down on for the second night and reached the Homer Wilson Ranch after about a 2/2.5-mile hike. We had cached water at the ranch before departing so we had plenty of that, and in fact left a gallon in the bearbox because we were still plenty full from the day before (Fresno Wash). There were no signs prohibiting camping near the ranch house itself, and with the terrain being what it is, we all agreed that if we had made it to the ranch area it would have been preferred to the windswept ridge where we camped on the second night.
Coming up the Blue Creek Trail is largely spent in the dry riverbed for about 1-2 miles, which pass through gorgeous rock formations and hoodoos. Once you are past the hoodoos, the trail climbs slowly until you reach the 4-mile point, at which it begins to climb steeply (thus again proving that what goes down, must go up eventually). The views, however, are spectacular, and the trail is clearly in better condition than either Dodson or Juniper Canyon. At the 6.5/7 mile point, the trail reaches the ridge and there's several intersections that immediately present themselves (as well as a chemical toilet). The remainder of the hike to the end of the loop is on the Laguna Meadows trail, and while there are some uphill sections, you have clearly done the bulk of the work already.

Total for the Outer Mountain Loop as we did it: 34 miles
9.9 mi • 180 ft aeg
Day two of the Outer Mountain Loop at Big Bend. We connected with the Dodson Trail about an hour after starting out, so approx 1.5 miles from where we had stopped the night before. The Dodson Trail is well-marked and covers rolling, sloping hills - so a lot of short ups, downs, and switchbacks around various washes, arroyos, and so on. There was water flowing at the Fresno Drainage, about halfway along the trail. Great camping places nearby. Though water is seasonal it's more likely here than at Juniper Springs. Again, though, the camping options for groups larger than 3 people diminish significantly as you approach Homer Wilson/Blue Creek Ranch.
12.4 mi • 2,860 ft aeg
Day one of the Outer Mountain Loop at Big Bend NP. We hit the trailhead by 10:30 AM and hiked steadily up the canyon trail for about 4 hours before leveling off and then starting the descent to the junction with the Dodson Trail (about 12 miles total). Start on the Pinnacles Trail and continue to the end, at each junction continue to the left branch. Juniper Springs was running during our visit. Reach the springs shortly after the "zone camping" area begins, by taking the right-hand fork at the junction with a sign, "No Zone Camping Here." The spring is actually another 1/4-mile back under the ridge and up the hill slightly. Water flows are seasonal and very unreliable.
Zone camping at the end of the trail is catch-what-you-can. If you're in a group of more than 3 people it's unlikely that you will find comfortable, flat terrain easily. There were several nice spots located within a mile of the junction with the Dodson Trail.
6.7 mi • 412 ft aeg
Our hiking club did a 3 day trip to Big Bend National Park in late October, hitting the major trails and highlights of the park and nearby Terlingua. Great time of the year for a trip due to the moderate temperatures. One of the trip organizers, Roddy, had worked for several years at BBNP on the park staff but had never been out to Slickrock. He twisted my arm to put together a bushwhack out to the canyon. Ray joined us.

It turned out to be a pretty easy bushwhack, but planning the route was a challenge because of the paucity of information about the feature and route. One thing that surprised me was that there was water still in the canyon pools, given the lack of rainfall in this desert location. It obviously supports wildlife over a huge area.

Still pending is a report back from the NPS about my "dinosaur bone" find. It sure looked like a bone, but I had just visited the Fossil Museum the day before, so maybe I was imagining things. See the hike description and pictures for more details.
10.2 mi • 2,400 ft aeg
Up early after a mild windy night at camp, Paul and I started our hike to Emory shortly after sunrise at around 8 AM (Central DST). It was going to be another warm humid day, so we wanted to get it done before any thunderstorms fired up. Excellent trails all the way up (though I got tired of all the water bar/steps). My favorite part was the section that wound through the Pinnacles. Got very steep near Emory Peak as expected. Paul climbed up the lower peak on the left at the point where the final scramble begins to get a better look at the peak. We decided not do the last 50 foot scramble to the top. Dropped down to a shady spot and had our lunch break before heading down the mountain. Still no thunderstorms in sight when we got back to camp, but you knew they would be around before too long. :)
5.75 mi • 0 ft aeg
I was a little hesitant after reading some of the previous posts be we decided to make the trek anyway. The trailheads were well marked and easy to find. We took the Morgan City Wash (4WD) from Carefree Highway all the way up to the trailheads and then went out and around Castle Hot Springs Road after we were done.
I have gps tracks for both if anyone is interested.
My wife and I, our four kids and dog all made the trek. We started at the Horse Spring trailhead and went clockwise around to the Burro Springs Trailhead. We backpacked in and planned to stay one night. We got a late start and chose the first flat spot we found about a half mile past horse spring to camp.
I marked several other possible campsites on the gps map. The best one in my opinion is on a saddle with great views of the surrounding peaks and canyons.
Horse Spring had some pretty murky puddles of water near an overturned water trough.
Burro Spring had some very small water holes but i guess they were more from the recent rain than the spring. I didn't see any sign of the actual spring but this would be a great area to picnic. Lots of trees and rock overhangs created very cool, shady areas.
We also found a good-sized water pool below the treed area in the SE corner of the loop.
Any water would definitely need filtered before drinking.
The trail was clear in areas and disappeared in others. Given the shape of the canyons, you just had to keep on course and would usually find the trail again. We used a gps also.
This area is magnificent. I've been on the OHV trails around the area a lot without ever realizing how beautiful this wilderness area is. This area seems to be a grazing area for cows and though we didn't see any they left their mark EVERYWHERE.
Overall a very good trip though.
1.6 mi • 50 ft aeg
Last hike in Big Bend this time around, and it was a beaut. Make sure you have your shoes tied tight otherwise the mud will suck them right off your feet!

Heading into the mouth of the canyon, the river looks like a giant waterslide. Not sure exactly where the designated trail ends, but I went up until I reached a spot that required me to get wet to pass. On the way out, the sun was radiating off of the rocks making it a tad hot. I passed two others whose license plate suggests they were also from Arizona.

Rafting the length of the canyon is surely on my bucket list now.
16.4 mi • 4,200 ft aeg
Chisos Mountain Loop
GPS track threw me off the rim a couple times. I'll go with 4200 AEG to make myself feel good.

Slept late and hit the visitor center to pay my entrance fee since everything was already closed the night before. Slapped it on the windshield, got my pack ready, and set out for the day. It was after 10am and I was expecting to be out for about 7 hours at 14.5 miles. It was a bit slippery from the rains the day before, but I made good time going up Pinnacles Trail. The trail to Emory Peak went very smoothly as well. My pace slowed as it got steeper and rockier near the peak. I came to the scramble and headed up after eying it for a few seconds. It was easy enough, with plenty of holds. After the initial 20ft or so, the grade eased and turned to boulders.

Views from the peak were nice, with lots of clouds covering the ESE canyons, and more gently flowing in from the west. Moved around the antenna arrays to find a reference mark and admired the drop before ungracefully heading back down. From there I payed a visit to Emory's other peak to the south. Both are separated by a nice chasm. Got some shots of Emory and met back up with a group of 4 just below the scramble. We chatted for a minute while one of them tried and gave up on the climb. None of the others wanted to try it, one of which said she was now a grandma and didn't want to break her hip. Fair enough!

Back on Pinnacles, I rolled into Boot Canyon which was beautiful. Lots of trees, flowers, stone retaining walls and trail cut right into the bare rock, a couple cabins, and even some flowing water. Tony the Tiger would be speechless. Some parts were also overgrown, which seemed to be a good thing in this setting. Paradise was followed by a solid climb up East Rim Trail. The low clouds had cleared and the views on the rim were tremendous. There are plenty of vantage points along this stretch, along with campsites. There's a spur trail near Laguna Meadow Trail that heads to another part of the rim which is good for photo ops.

At 10.6 miles, I emptied my Camelbak. Luckily after the spur trail, it was generally downhill so my extra liter would do the trick. Laguna Meadow Trail has great views of Emory Peak's cliffs as well views into and around Chisos Basin. There seems to be less tree cover here versus Pinnacles. Upon writing this, it seems I missed the trail's namesake entirely. I don't recall any signage, so keep an eye out.

Too long; didn't read: This is a great tour of the Chisos Mountains. Do it.
4.5 mi • 1,200 ft aeg
After driving back to the basin from Rio Grande Village, I decided to give this one a go. The sunset had already begun, but I thought I could make it to the top for some views anyways. By the time I topped out, there was hardly any light left. I threw on the headlamp and started to head back. Going down was slower than going up. I gave plenty shout outs to all the bears, and even a couple to the cats. It was a special kind of dark by the time I got back to the car. It wasn't that bright, but I was able to make out some of the Milky Way that night.

Hola oso!
6.6 mi • 260 ft aeg
Better late than never...

There are two reasons why I decided to type this triplog:

1) Because I think all photosets that have a mountain lion should have a triplog - except those photos that came from the zoo or a trailcam. That's cheating! Those people should be ashamed of themselves. They probably cheat at checkers and root for the Patriots.

2) Also, I want to ask about Instagram (yeah, you probably see that one coming).

Anyway, the whole reason that I went to Big Bend Nat'l Park is because I wanted to see a puma. I was talking to my friend, A.H., and I asked him if he ever saw a mountain lion. He said, "yeah." Then I asked him where. He said, "Flagstaff and Big Bend." Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Have you ever seen a mountain lion?
AH: Yeah.
Me: Where at?
AH: Flagstaff and Big Bend.
Me: Is Big Bend cool?
AH: Yeah.

I was sold. I did my research on Big Bend and kind of knew where I was going and what to see. I just got my first digital camera for my birthday and I hardly used it, so I wanted to try it out. It was a Fuji 3-zoom ($80), I believe.

I stay for 3 days and put a lot of miles on my shoes there. I mainly hiked in the morning and rested during mid-day and hiked in the evening. I met a family that was stranded on one of the trail near the hotel. They were about a half mile away from the hotel. It was 2 old ladies who got tired and a guy was their son and was a bit older than I. They needed me to guide them because I had a flashlight as it was getting dark. My batteries died in my camera, which sucked because I saw a plethora of vinegaroons and scorpions - I think they were Texas burrowing scorpions. I also saw a plethora of javelinas that were not shy and came within 4ft of me.

They thanked me for the assistance, and since they were southern, offered me to stay with them and food and stuff. I declined. The guy, since he was roughly my age, wanted to join me on some hikes. I thought that was okay, except I began to follow me around EVERYWHERE the next day. I got weirded out and told him that I'd meet him at 3pm to hike with him later that day and ditched him.

On my last hike, I left mid-day and hoped to see a puma. I passed two backpackers, and within 15 seconds heard some deer huffing at me. Oddly, when I was walking away, they were huffing louder and followed me a bit and stopped. When I looked back at the deer, I saw a young mountain lion just sitting there about 20ft from the trail, looking all dumpy-lookin' in the tall grass. (See photo) I did a double-take and thought, "Aren't mountain lions supposed to be elusive?" [New paragraph]

I guess the deer were trying to warn me about the mountain lion and that I was dangerously approaching it. It actually looked fake to me because it sat so still. I back-tracked to get a better photo because I knew if I didn't get a good photo, no one would believe me.

Without disturbing it too much, I spent about a minute or two getting my photos and left soon after. I was curious what the lion did after I left. When I returned, I saw the deer huffing nervously and the mountain lion laying in the grass. By the way, I've never heard deer huff that like before, so it shocked me when I heard it and didn't know what it was.

At the end of the hike, I saw my stalker near the trailhead, as if he was waiting for me. At least this time, I was stoked and would have been happy to see the Westboro Baptist Church protesting my grandma's funeral at this point. I told him, and later his family, about the lion encounter. They were impressed. He stated that he was on the same trail and just got finished his hike and was looking for them.

Anyway, I also saw a mojave rattler on the road and some other stuff but lost a lot of my photos due to a computer crash. The end...

Part 2:
What's up with Instagram? I was told that I should go on it to post my photos. I tried to sell my photos through istock and another site (I think it was shutterfly), but you have to take a test before submitting photos, and I failed. People told me that Instagram would expand my world a bit and help me get connections. I always saw instagram as a website for teenagers and an excuse for insecure women to pretend to be celebrities by posting endless selfies to get positive affirmations because they got sucked into our westernized cultural ideation that bases a woman's self-worth on her appearance and not her achievements or inner-strengths.

Anyway, I figured that I should give it a try. The internet can never have too many snake photos, and I'd be happy to help spread the joy.

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