Explore Big Bend - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
2 months ago

I read this was easy and very close to the lodge where we were staying. We decided to take the hike while waiting for check in time. I personally found this trail more difficult than the Lost Mine trail. It's rated Easy on All Trails but Moderate by the park staff. I agree with the park staff. It's an interesting trail with great views and lots of elevation change. Worth the effort just more difficult than I expected. At 58 years old difficulty level is an important factor.

Nice hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Pine Canyon Trail head is at the end of a 6 mile primitive road. The park recommends 4X4 drive, however we made the trek in Desmond out Honda CRV without noticeable damage. The trial is a easy-moderate 4 mile in and out. The first 1.6 miles are in the sun. Beware of flies, their presence is overwhelming at times. This is where you encounter first of many ecosystems. Next the trail come to a moderately wooded area, and slowly becomes more dense. This is where we encountered two black bear cubs, and momma bear. We never made it to the waterfall due to the presence of the bears. Despite the bears, the changing of ecosystems were exhilarating. Great hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Paved & accessible, this is just a .3 loop to see the window. Has a bench & lots of information boards. Nice to see if you don't have the time or inclination to take the longer trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Good hike if you are short on time or don't feel like doing one of the longer mountain hikes. Offers some alternate views of the Window and is a good place to encounter wildlife along the way.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy stroll with some inclines and declines to warm up for the rest of the Big Bend trails

4 months ago

More of a walk than a hike, but beautiful views particularly at sunset.

Hot/exposed at first but leads into a wooded area with lots of shade!

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing trail, stunning views, superb camping spots. Hiked desert part in one day, mountain part in one long day, so did Junniper - Wilson - Rim - Junniper. Initial plan was to do 3 days but the rangers ruined that (see below).

Expect some serious shade from the scare-mongering rangers if you tell them you want to do this trail. They told us :
- the desert part has no trail markers you'll get lost.
- it's going to be 105F tomorrow you're going to suffer and give up
- there is absolutely no shade in the desert part (Dodson trail)
- you saw that trail on the internet you have no idea what you're doing
- 1.5 gallons of water per person per day
- go do the South rim hike instead, you can make it the same length

The truth was :
- there are cairns everywhere on the desert part, you cannot get lost.
- the next day was cloudy and temperatures were around 80F. I was cold, always backpack with a sweat-shirt.
- there is indeed very little shade on Dodson trail
- 1.5 gal pp per day was accurate for us
- South Rim hike is way shorter. We hiked that one in a day and a half then grabbed our permit to do the OML in two days rather than 3.

The advice I would have liked :
- hike it in March, flower season for cactii
- avoiding Chisos is a good idea, keeps all the nice views and makes it a 2 long days hike.
- the road to Junniper canyon trailhead is really shit, even with a 4 wheel drive (SUV not a jeep) it took me 90 minutes to do it one way.
- consider carrying more water and not caching at Junniper to avoid that drive
- get a hiking umbrella, weights very little and provides great shade on desert part.

backpacking
4 months ago

Just joined alltrails but have done the Outer Mountain Loop twice now in the late October and mid November the past two years. As others have observed, a very challenging hike with tough, long climbs, very little water. Lots of exposure on the Dodson Trail and downright dangerous if it's hot. High dropout rate, but if you have good legs this trail is a real experience to not forget.

Don't do this hike without consulting the very, very well written OML Hike FAQ on the equally impressive and helpful site Big Bend Chat (I belong). Lots of up to date water reports, advice, warnings, etc. There are three main water sources and if you take the time to learn where they are this can be done without hauling too much to wear you out. Here it is: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/big-bend-national-park-outer-mountain-loop/the-outer-mountain-loop-faq-and-planning-tips/

Like many on the forum there, I recommend doing the hike starting at Homer Wilson Ranch and avoiding the Basin altogether. I've done both. The first few miles out of the basin in either direction are the least inspiring of the total hike by a long shot--my opinion and that of plenty of others. Last late October went counter-clockwise starting from HWR with a stay on the South Rim the second day. Unparalleled beauty and views there.

Truly one of the best hikes of my long hiking career.

on Pine Canyon Trail

5 months ago

Lovely canyon. Green oasis in the desert. Few visitors. Bear present.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy trail. Perfect for those with mobility difficulties. Location near restaurant and store make it a great pre-or post-meal walk. View at sunset unbeatable.

Loved this off-road trail. Very pretty in February.

hiking
5 months ago

This trail is NOT moderate, and is extremely difficult and can be very dangerous for the inexperienced or anybody does not go in the Nov-Mar timeframe. Very high failure rate due to the challenging terrain, heavy water carry, and elevation changes.

I think the route that includes the Chisos Basin may be more common, look for the other trail that says "includes pinnacles".

Strongly recommend you don't do this without including the South Rim which is the best view in the area.

backpacking
6 months ago

The loop is 35 miles long, not 25. Unless you do a shortened version not listed by the park or elsewhere. And to call it moderate could kill people, as that trail has. I hiked the AT starting in Maine, and it was not nearly as difficult as the Outer Mountain Loop.

hiking
6 months ago

I had hiked Chisos Mtn several times in my 20's and returned 25 years later with my son, Cullen, to do the OML! Not in the best shape, I found our 4+ day, 38 mile trip extremely challenging! I proved what I always tell my high school soccer players, the mind can push the body far past its limits when it tries to convince you it's done! Cullen planed our trip and downloaded the map - a must. In early January, temps ranged from upper 20s on the mountain to 80 on the Dodson. The trails are rarely calm and groomed. Surfaces include loose, rocky scree, large rocks, steps, and beds of deep, crushed river rock . There's also plenty of scratchy pokey plants lining narrow trails, so poles were invaluable. Not just for climbing and descending but also to push thorns out of the way. Day 1, Chisos Basin to SE rim. Cost us an extra 3 miles, but seeing the sunrise from the rim was too beautiful to describe! Day 2, back to Juniper Canyon Tr, some climbing and lots of descending on rocky stuff - enjoy using your downhill muscles! Picked up our water cache at the junction of Juniper Canyon and Dodson (needed a 4x4 to cache there). 1.5 gallons each. Camped about a mile up the Dodson from there, real nice Zone camp site off the trail. Day 3 was a butt kicker! Warm for January, in and out of the sun. Filtered about 2-3 liters of water out of the Fresno creek. Enjoyed about .5 miles of easy, groomed trail out of camp, but the last 10 miles was all up/down, up/down. Gorgeous scenery, though, through endless canyons! Picked up our 2nd cache (3 gals.) of water at Homer Wilson Ranch (bear box, near a paved road .5 miles off the trail). Zone camp was within sight of the ranch buildings. We didn't see many suitable zone campsites around the ranch. Day 4 sounded easier - Blue Creek Tr, 2.500 foot climb over six miles, but my legs were rubber. Spent 3-4 miles slogging uphill in the creek beds, then some steep climbs to Laguna Meadows, were we camped at 6700' at site LM4. The compost toilet there was a welcome experience (if you know what I mean)! The night was really cold and windy, glad I had warm socks and a light down coat. Most hikers go from the ranch back to Chisos in one day, but we decided to break it up. The last leg down Laguna Medows Tr to Chisos was an easy downhill cruise - finally some smooth, non-technical trails. At the end, just a quick, steep climb to our truck as if the trail was saying, "Remember who's boss, and get in shape before you come back!" Summary:
Permits: get your free back country hiking permit and any mountain tent sites ($6) at Panther Junction. Campground tent sites at Chisos Basin or Rio Grande Village are FCFS and $14.
Water: averaged 4 liters per day each. Highly recommend caching at both points. Don't count on streams.
Food: Cliff bars, tuna, rice, beef jerky, nuts and dried fruit did well. Brought a little too much
Pack Weight: go light as possible. Big mistake bringing items like survival knife, cribbage board and cards (too tired each night to play), binocs (never used), brick cell phone chargers (only needed one), etc. Bring more toilet paper than you think you'll need. Once home, we weighed all the stuff we didn't use - 5 lbs!!
Clothing: wicking long sleeves, wide-brim hats, shorts, sunscrean, warm items for cold nights
Trail markers - only an issue on the Dodson and Blue Creek. Spot the cairns, and you're fine
Fitness - this trail is for the lean and fit! If you're not, prepare to suffer. On steep climbs, I often had to rest every 35-100 steps or so, but I finished with my pack, and it motivated me to get back in the gym. Luckily I had my son - he had zero pity for me, mind you - but he did carry most of our water saving me 5-8 pound over a lot of the trek! He also paced me up some climbs when looking at his heals was healthier for my minds then looking up!
Overall, it was a fantastic experience! This park has incredible views, changing ecology, variety of bird life, and animals (saw plenty of white-tail, but not much else. Havelinas, coyotes, cougars, black bears are out there, but no sightings.
Other attractions: we made a beeline for the Hot Spring next to the Rio after we finished the loop! Boquillas Canyon was also breathtaking! We made a new friend there, too - Jesus, the singing Mexican cowboy!

Awe-striking hike through forests, deserts, and plains. I took a lot of pictures but it seemed a little nutty after a while. The whole place is just beautiful and picturesque.

Everyone says it and yes it applies to you who claims to be naturally good at hydration, you need water on this hike. Lots of it. I recommend 6 liters a day (1.5 gallons). Boot Canyon spring is promising but you may only have the option of sitting foul-tasting water and that's after filtering it. We were really lucky and found a few pools of water in a spring on the Dodson trail too.

Keeping on the trail going back into the Chisos Mountains from Homer Wilson ranch may be a little tricky. Look out for stacked rocks to lead the way. We were attracted to all the canyon rock structures and ended up walking a quarter of a mile up the wrong creek bed. It was worth it though. We took the best photos in that area where we were lost. There was a lot of bear droppings though (more than what you usually see on the trail), so it probably wasn't the safest place to be. We know where they all hang out now.

backpacking
7 months ago

The trail is less scenic than many in Big Bend. Has demanding elevation changes. Homer ranch homestead a nice stop.

scenic driving
7 months ago

Scenic drive into the heart of the Chisos leading to multiple trailheads, camping. Camping can be limited in big Bend during the peak season. Plan well ahead.

backpacking
7 months ago

trail in a very dry area with many elevation changes. Deceptively grueling

backpacking
7 months ago

Gradual climb until the last several miles when you climb out of the drainage. Interesting rock formations

scenic driving
7 months ago

Short drive to multiple trailheads in the Chicos Mountains

backpacking
7 months ago

Well maintained trail that covers everything from low desert to high mountain with lots of trees.

backpacking
7 months ago

A varied hike through the desert floor, over a mountain , through a dry river bed or drainage and ending at a historic ranch.

backpacking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike up the drainage through some lush canyon foliage, nice rock formations, and a grueling climb to the peak. All very much worth the effort.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike that offers a glimpse into different habitats. If you’re looking for a nice quiet trail with some potential to see wildlife, this might be your ticket. We saw some deer, signs of javelina, and more birds than we could count.

Less traffic than other parts of the park due to challenging road getting there. Fair warning, the road out could be rough or impassable in low clearance vehicles. 4x4 May be required if it rains.

hiking
7 months ago

Great views of the “window”. Saw a few Mexican jays and many different species of plants and cacti. Make sure to bring plenty of water as this is a high altitude trail.

backpacking
7 months ago

Rugged trail with huge elevation gain when hiking out and back. Gorgeous views overlooking the valley from the peaks.

433ft of elevation change. 7mo pregnant wife and 4 year old made the trail. Great views and better vantage point for window. Several other trails use part of this trail or start near by.

hiking
7 months ago

Paved walkway. Super easy and really short. Most of the trails start from this point. Parking is tight. Get to the Basin early!

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