Big Bend National Park: Outer Loop Trail

From the Chisos Mountains to the Chihuahuan Desert, this 3- or 4-day hike samples it all.
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From the Chisos Mountains to the Chihuahuan Desert, this 3- or 4-day hike samples it all.

PERMITS: Overnight camping requires a backcountry permit. Go to nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/permits.htm for prices and more details.

MORE INFO: Big Bend National Park, (432) 477-2251; nps.gov/bibe

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 47.6

Waypoints

OLL001

Location: 29.2704659, -103.3016815

Trailhead: The Outer Loop is a well-marked, but stout tour. The first day starts with a steep climb and a long, knee-pounding descent.

OLL002

Location: 29.2699165, -103.3005981

Continue S then SW

OLL003

Location: 29.2519169, -103.2973022

Saddle between Emory Peak and Toll Mountain

OLL004

Location: 29.2414341, -103.2971497

Pools: Possible water

OLL005

Location: 29.2409992, -103.2974854

After climbing over the forested Chisos Mountains, plunge 2,850 feet into Juniper Canyon before making a long traverse through the foothills of the Chihuahuan Desert

OLL006

Location: 29.223917, -103.2412491

Junction with road; continue S on Dodson Trail, a sun-drenched rollercoaster whose stony trailbed is hard on feet (sturdy boots recommended).

OLL007

Location: 29.2028999, -103.2940521

Good campsites and possible water at Fresno Creek

OLL008

Location: 29.2010994, -103.2994003

Continue W

OLL009

Location: 29.2068825, -103.3315506

Junction with Smoky Creek Trail and longer loop possibilities

OLL010

Location: 29.2143002, -103.3667984

Keep R @ Blue Creek Ranch. From here, is a comparatively easy, with a gradual 2,200-foot climb up Blue Creek Canyon, a scenic stroll through the pygmy forests of Laguna Meadows, and a quick descent back to Chisos Basin.

OLL011

Location: 29.2165337, -103.3566818

Possible campsite

OLL012

Location: 29.2358665, -103.3089523

End of backcountry-zone camping

OLL013

Location: 29.241066, -103.3104324

Climb evens out

OLL014

Location: 29.2427826, -103.31147

Junction with South Rim; close loop back to trailhead