Santa Elena Canyon Trail

EASY 32 reviews
#5 of 60 trails in

Santa Elena Canyon Trail is a 1.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Terlingua, TX that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until October.

1.4 miles 137 feet Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

wildlife

This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene. Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful. Lots of people, but we went over Spring Break. Very easy hike.

trail running
3 months ago

The most beautiful scenery in the canyon! It was not a strenuous hike and almost gave it a four but you just don't see nature like this anywhere. The side canyon walls are buffeted by the Rio Grande river softly washing over the walls. Picture book scenery.

3 months ago

4 months ago

Take your kayak and paddle in some. Stinky but awesome views.

5 months ago

You can dip your toes in the Rio Grande and then hike into lush greenery and bamboo along the bank and at the base of dramatic cliff drops.

hiking
5 months ago

Incredible views abound on this short, easy trail in Big Bend. Santa Elena canyon is narrow with towering walls. Due to the rock layers, once you are in the canyon, the Rio Grande looks to be flowing uphill. Being enveloped in this canyon is a humbling experience. Just stunning!

6 months ago

6 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous! 8yo and 5yo begged to go back each day we were around Big Bend! They loved the walk itself, touching the river, climbing on the boulders and hearing their voices echo (sorry, other hikers!).

8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Fun hike! Great for family. Beautiful views and easy to follow trail. A little too short but still very fun.

hiking
11 months ago

1 year ago

Easy hike with a finishing great view of the Canyon.

1 year ago

Awesome! Definitely worth it!

1 year ago

Santa Elena is my most favorite canyon of all... A very special and desolate place.

1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

Hike is short and in the shade. Canyon is magnificent.

hiking
2 years ago

Nice short easy hike. Did it in the heat of the day at the end of July. Great views of the canyon and the Rio Grande.

hiking
2 years ago

As you begin this trail you are met with a spectacular view. The Rio Grande flowing through a canyon. It rained before we got there so we had to hike through a creek first and the climbed a steep walkway to the top of the trail. it was an amazingly beautiful trail and view all the way through.

hiking
2 years ago

The approach to the canyon is majestic, almost looks surreal at certain angles and is probably the best part of the hike. I had the pleasure of visiting this wonder with Santiago and his family. The day before we set out from the lodge the canyon was apparently dry. With some thunderstorms bringing heavy rains from Mexico later that night, the water level in the river soared to almost 6 feet in some places! It made the trip that much better seeing how the river runs through this scenic canyon.