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Loop Camp Map
9 hours ago

Fantastic hike and definitely recommended for experienced hikers looking for a trail a bit off the beaten path. We did this hike in Dec 2018 and had the trail to ourselves. It was quite icy at the top, so crampons were definitely needed. Fantastic views through the trail. There are primitive campsites at Horshoe Mesa probably 3/4 of the way down. The real reward is the viewpoint at the very bottom where you are right in the middle of the canyon on an outcrop/Mesa with a true 360 view of the canyon. Absolutely stunning.

This was a very demanding hike and would not be recommended for someone with bad knees. In particular, the way down was brutal and slow (mostly because we went in December and it was quite icy). Mentally, it’s tough because the most physically exhausting part is the last 3-4 miles, as with any hike down into the canyon. However the views, particularly once you get to the bottom, are absolutely incredible.

Very scenic. Pretty well marked over all. Watch out for 1.4 miles one-way off shoot in the NW corner

This is easily one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. Weather was perfect, very low traffic. The hike was smooth until the rock scramble and then I only had to slow down for a few couples who I followed for a bit to get acclimated to it as I had never done that much scrambling. Luckily they noticed I was moving at a fairly quick pace and happily let me pass once I got comfortable with navigating the boulders. A few false summits but the views there were great. I didn’t realize how gorgeous the view from the true summit was but it totally didn’t disappoint. The walk down the fire road was longer than I thought it would be but it wasn’t unbearable by any means just a little less exciting than the actual trail. 10/10 would hike again but definitely only in late fall/early winter.

Wow! Perfect hike for a fall day. Ranger station said 9.5 miles, app said 8.5 miles, GPS said 9.5 miles. We ran into quite a few hikers, which we didn't mind. I recommend going with someone as some spots were quite difficult. The rock scrambling section was a lot longer and harder than expected. I am 5'9" and I feel like some sections would have been much more difficult if shorter. If you need hiking poles, I don't recommend this hike. You need both hands to help with scrambling and some upper body strength. Wear hiking boots or trail shoes that have good grip, especially if it's wet. Overall great hike, but intense!

Did this as a day trip in December. Just want to point out it is quite doable as a day trip given it is done in the winter and you’re used to doing 25-30 mile hikes. Started with Dodson trail, which is actually fairly mild and undulating. Up juniper canyon in he heat of the day tough but doable. Smooth sailing down the blue creek canyon into the sunset. Awesome hike, right among my top hiking experiences.

Beautiful, well maintained trail near Houston. Easy to navigate and gorgeous foliage.

The earliest you start the better. The more people on the trail the longer the bottleneck line is!

This is an awesome trail with beautiful mountain views. The rock scrambles were challenging and the trail had many unique features. The hike took us about 5 hrs and 15 minutes to complete. We started at 8 AM. Almost 3000 ft of elevation gain. We had enough energy to do a shorter hike afterwards.

10 days ago

I'm a relatively inexperienced backpacker, having done maybe a dozen 2-3 night camping trips and this was definitely one of the more challenging ones I've done, mostly bc of the elements (heat and lack of water).

Route: Clockwise from Chisos Basin Visitor Center + Southwest Rim (~35 miles)
Day 1: Visitor Center up the Pinnacles, down Juniper Canyon to the Dodson Trail. I wish I had made it to Fresno Creek so I could have binged on water, but I ran out of daylight.
Day 2: Stopped at Fresno Creek for coffee, then to Home Ranch for lunch and up Blue Creek to the South Rim. I camped at SW4, which was close to this great overlook on the Rim, made for some great pics.
Day 3: Out of food and low on water, I couldn't sleep and hiked out at 4AM. I bypassed the full South Rim trail and went straight to Boot Canyon so I could refill at Boot Spring. Then on the Colima Trail to Laguna Meadows Trail.

Would not recommend the early departure for two reasons. One, the South Rim has epic views, and sunrise there looks incredible. Boot Canyon is also worth seeing, and though it was nice to observe it by moonlight, I knew I was missing out. Second reason, I saw a mountain lion on the trail and those things terrify me. Should have just waited until sunrise.

Stupidly, I only brought capacity to carry 3L of water. This made for a light pack, which was nice going up the Pinnacles on Day 1 and up the Blue Creek Trail switchbacks on Day 3, but I was pretty dehydrated by the end of it. I should have brought another 2L empty bladder with me and filled it at Boot Spring.

It's definitely worth reading through Big Bend Chat forum on water sources and caching at Home Wilson Ranch. Just be familiar with what you're looking for. I got water at Boot Spring (which is marked with a sign) about five miles into Day 1, and Fresno Creek early on Day 2. Thankfully there were some extra gallons at Home Wilson, too, that I binged on and took 3L with me to camp up on South Rim, then refilled again at Boot Spring early on Day 3 and hiked out. In hindsight, this was stupid bc Boot Spring could have run dry (Dodson Spring had gone dry just a day before I got there) and it would have been a tough dry Day 3 hike.

General Thoughts:
- Top three hike of my life
- November is a terrific time to do it. Highs around 80, lows in the mid-40's, decent amount of water on the trail (though you obviously can't bank on this).
- Glad I camped on South Rim, the sunset views were absolutely stunning.
- All of the trails up around Chisos Basin, Emory Peak, South Rim, etc. are extremely well defined and well-marked. It's out in the zoned camping areas where you have to be careful (Juniper, Dodson, Blue Creek)
- The rangers were super helpful; the only thing they gave me a hard time on was that I didn't cache water. She "strongly encouraged" me to cache water at Home Wilson; I didn't, but she was right.
- Should have brought sun block, long sleeve shirt and a sun hat for Dodson Trail and Blue Creek. There is very very little shade out there.
- The caution about losing the trail is not entirely overreaction. There are cairns, but some get knocked out from flash floods, or are pretty far apart. I lost the trail on Dodson a couple times, but backtracked easily enough and found it. I could have saved twelve bucks on the Nat Geo map and just printed one out from Big Bend Chat.
- Do it in November! High of 80, low in the mid-40's and some water already out there (though it's tough to bank on this). This would have been much more challenging in the summer, and miserable to carry all that water. I probably would have cut out the South Rim and done it on a long day hike based from Chisos or something.
- You could start/finish from Homer Ranch and cut out the Chisos Basin, but I'm glad I didn't. The Chisos was pretty nice, and the long early morning walk down Laguna Meadow after camping on South Rim on night 2, so relaxing and great way to wind down the trip. Plus, you can then binge on ice cream at the camp store.

Perfect fall hike. Don’t miss seeing Monkey Rock

Great hike. Lots of loose rocks though.

Difficult but worth it.

Hike this trial yearly. Trail can get really crowded with inexperienced hikers causing long lines at the rock scrambles. I recommend hiking in in the off season or at night to catch the sunrise and to avoid crowds. If you do the sunrise hike it takes about 2-3 hours, depending if your hiking abilities, from the parking lot to the submit. I do not recommend this hike to those that are not physically fit, or able to do some minor rock climbing.

This is definitely a hard trail. Mostly for the rock scrambling part. You can still get to the summit without the rocks if you park at the other parking lot and walk from the Berry Hollow fire trail. The rock scrambling is lots of fun and lots of work for a short woman like me. But totally worth it!

16 days ago

badlands very neat place in this world...

16 days ago

Amazing hike with amazing views. We did the hike in 2.5 days

This trail follows the water which is amazing. We started from the Big Agnes North Trail in a clockwise direction. This means the higher elevations are completed last. There are a few places where the trail markings are lacking. Several hikers have tied ribbons marking the trail. We found using the Guthook app really made it easygoing. It works offline which is great since there is no phone service near the trail. The service roads that access the trail are small and have one lane bridges so exercise caution.

17 days ago

great trail. challenging for a little bit, but overall not too difficult. weather in November was beautiful. we did the east trail for 4.5 miles. very very rocky so good shoes/boots are needed. feet get wet at times. good overlook views in two spots. ranger people were all very friendly. get their early for parking space.

awesome views!!

great trail.

Absolutely amazing and challenging trail. Started on Wednesday, November 21st at 10:25am and finished Friday, November 23rd at 10:45am. We went clockwise and trekked nearly 11 miles, camping soon after crossing Eagle Rock Vista and the next ridge. Camped along the stream in the valley at some nice campsites. Early start the next morning began with some truly challenging climbs but the views were worth it. Hammered out a total of 11.5 miles that day and camped near a meadow just shy of Albert Pike. Knocked out the next 5 1/2 or so the next morning with the last mile in the pouring rain. We saw deer, raccoon, and heard something early one morning howl like a wolf (it was not coyotes, I’ve had tons of experiences with them). Didn’t see bears but I sure wanted to, from a distance of course. I highly suggest getting in good shape for this hike. I thought I was in pretty good shape but the ridges kicked my tail. Also, call the ranger offices to check the water levels because there are tons of water crossings.

Our favorite hike of all time!!

18 days ago

The trail is nice and well marked. It's easy to access from northwest arkansas. We hiked it clockwise and camped at the primitive camping sites arpund 9.5 miles. i think there were 6 primitive campsites and everyone of them was occupied. It was not awful but i think its worth knowing you wont be the only one on the trail.

Little crowded with hikers but totally worth the hike. Wish I spent more time at the summit relaxing because the view is stunning

You will have to cross the river several times, approximately 20, in winter the water is very cold.

22 days ago

My husband and I hiked this trail the first week of November. Temperatures were very pleasant, probably 85-90 degrees in the desert and 5-10 degrees cooler in the mountains and along the river. The trail is easy to lose so I highly recommend a GPS unit or app on your phone and a paper map backup. The cacti are vicious, be prepared to pull needles and barbs out of legs, arms, hands. Don’t skimp on the gallon of water a day per person suggestion—we carried 3-1/2 gallons between us for the overnight and drank or used every drop. The first couple miles are an easy hike through the desert. Then you climb about 500’ in about a quarter mile and continue through the mountains to the split. We hiked the south leg first, descending to the connector trail and camping at the first campsite we found. The descent was brutal, it just goes more or less straight down the side of a mountain. I was ready to drop my pack at the first sight of a campsite, but there is a second location further down the connector trail with what seemed like 2 spaces for tents. The first campsite was flat and relatively free of rocks. There were some ants, but they didn’t bother us. The view of the river was great, and the cliffs surrounding our camp on all sides made for a beautiful sunset and an even more beautiful sunrise. The connector trail continues north along a ledge overlooking the river, then crosses a wash out so deep we had to drop our packs, lower ourselves down, heave the packs up over the other side, and climb back out. The trail then climbs up and back into the mountains through a rocky sloped pass requiring a little bouldering and climbing up short but pretty sheer rock faces with a few places to place hands and feet. It was a bit of a scramble at times! A pleasant hike through the mountains and back to the connection with the main trail leg, back down out of the mountains and into the desert to get back to the car. We hiked about 6 hours each day, covering a little over 6 miles the first day and closer to 8 the second day. A very enjoyable trail!

A friend and I backpacked this 11/9-10, starting at the Holt Rd trailhead and going clockwise. This is a nice hike with great camping spots along the way.
This direction was hard on my knees, especially the final downhill into Lee Creek.
I hiked this again 11/17 starting from the main trailhead and going counterclockwise. I did the whole trail in just under 7 hours and going cc was much better on my knees as I am stronger uphill hiking. The trail is well blazed and has many interesting sights along the way.

Fantastic trail. Summer hikes are great with the canopy and many water holes to take a dip in.

23 days ago

we hiked the trail late October. the Little Mo. River gauge at Langley was showing 4.4' when we started CCW at the forestry Rd East trailhead just south of Albert Pike. This is as high as I would feel comfortable crossing most of the deeper crossings, and I'm 6'2". the trail was very scenic through most sections, and was definitely a challenge. we did three 8 mile days and a 3 mile morning to finish up.

the mountain summits, while steep with no switchbacks, are thankfully not that tall (200-400 feet in approx .5 mile for most of them). the rocky creek bed s you follow on the VBT will beat your feet to death, so be sure to wear some sturdy boots. Water is plentiful. aside from the peaks, we were rarely more than a hundred feet from flowing water.

Best trail EVER.

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