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Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Smith Springs

This 2.3-mile loop in Guadalupe Mountains National Park rolls through a yucca-covered wash and visits a seeping spring surrounded by big-tooth maple.

Rating

This easy 2.3-mile loop begins at Guadalupe Mountains National Park’s Frijole Ranch, which now houses a museum highlighting the human history of the area. Though you could hike the loop in either direction, this route takes a counterclockwise approach following the paved trail from the ranch, past an orchard and toward Manzanita Spring where it turns to dirt.
The rocky trail veers north and dips into a wash and climbs gradually—gaining almost 400 feet over the next half mile—as it climbs toward the base of the escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains. After winding across a yucca- and cacti-covered hillside, the trail enters a lush riparian zone where the area’s only spring—Smith Spring—appears below layers of percolating limestone.
The shaded clearing below the spring is a great place to stop for a picnic or wait for signs of wildlife (the springs serves as a watering hole for many animals). The loop’s second half drops down a couple of rocky downhills and offers views of El Capitan as it heads south, bypassing the Frijole and Foothills trails before looping back to the Ranch.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

From Carlsbad, New Mexico, drive 53.2 miles south on US 180 into Texas. Turn right at Frijole Ranch Road and drive 0.7 mile to the trailhead and Frijole Ranch Historic Site.

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