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Big Bend National Park: South Rim, Chisos Mountains

tx

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 13.8 miles


Stay cool on a high-elevation hike with long-distance desert views.

June brings broiling temps to the Chihuahuan Desert at Big Bend—but the 7,400-foot Chisos Mountains in the park’s center are a welcome escape. From high in these “ghost” peaks, you’ll get hundred-mile views into Mexico, huge rock towers, unique vegetation such as Texas madrone and pinyon pine, and abundant wildlife like javelina, mountain lions, and Mexican black bear. Make a weekend of it on this difficult 13.9-mile loop from the Chisos Basin, a natural rock bowl at 5,400 feet, to the sheer ridge along the South Rim.

Begin climbing on the steep Laguna Meadows Trail, then stay left at the junction to reach the Southwest Rim Trail. Follow the path 1.7 miles along the ridge’s contour, where the vistas—peaks, mesas, and arroyos—are as big as the 2,000-foot drop to the desert floor. Spend the night at one of the rim’s backcountry campsites—Southwest 1-4 are closest to the edge, but the Northeast sites are most secluded. Descend on the rocky, wooded Boot Canyon Trail, catching a glimpse of the “Boot” pinnacle formation as you go. Time on your hands? Hike the 1-mile spur to Emory Peak, the Chisos Mountains’ highest at 7,832 feet. Take the Pinnacles Trail back down to close the loop.

Info: Backcountry permit required. Map: Trails Illustrated Big Bend National Park #225; NPS Chisos Mountains Trail Map. (432) 477-2251; nps.gov.bibe

-Hike provided by David Elkowitz, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services, Big Bend National Park. Mapping by Melissa Gaskill.

Trail Reviews & Comments

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Jon B,
Jul 20, 2014

A group of my friends did this hike back in December of 2012 and for the inexperienced or out of shape backpacker, it is a difficult hike. All three of my friends take in mind were inexperienced and a bit out of shape. As a result, they all suffered during the first day as the trail entailed all switchbacks. Day two was not nearly as bad since it involved the outer loop trail which might I add made it all worth the while. BEST VIEWS in Texas in my opinion. Worth the trip for anybody who has never been.

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