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on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
1 day ago

We hiked this trail in October, and had a 7 year old with us. We ended up camping 3 nights, as we were not in a hurry at all. We took lightweight hikers tents, our backpacks had camelbacks, and we ate MREs. I am not exaggerating when I say we probably crossed water 60 times, but sometimes it was just small streams that you could step on rocks to get across. I took water shoes to change into to cross the bigger water crossings so my shoes could stay dry, then I would change back into my sneakers. When I said MREs earlier, I feel they made all of the difference in our energy level. I couldn’t have made it on trail food. We had 2 each per day, and saved something out of them for breakfast. We had some extra water to start, but we took one of those little filters to filter the stream water so that we could pack a little lighter. When we parked and started, we went to the right first. We had studied the map and felt this was the toughest part so we wanted to tackle it first. Brush Heap Mountain has no mercy. It’s a long, steep climb that you think will never end. At the top was a little spotty cell coverage if you wanted to check in with the rest of the world. Other than that, I don’t believe we had any cell phone coverage. So be sure you check in and out with the park rangers.
It was a challenging, beautiful hike. Lots of different terrain to see and experience. We are in our 40s, and had a teen and a 7 year old and we completed it.

This hike was amazing. Gorgeous views, but dont get fooled by the 7.5 mile round trip it's a lot longer than that just one way due to all the switchbacks you traverse. So some trail training is a must before attempt to tackle this trail. When you get to the top it's all worth the effort.

What a thrill to stand at the highest point in Texas! This was my birthday hike, fortunately delayed from August as the temperature was perfect in early November at mid 60s F. According to my GPS, this trail is closer to 9 miles, most of which is quite steep and rocky. The wind was strong and consistent throughout. There are few signs, but only one place near the summit had us tracing the trail visually from above us to find our way. Take extra water - my daughter drank 3 liters and ran out a mile from the trailhead on the descent. Start early to finish before dark as the days are shorter, and bring a headlamp/flashlight in case you don’t. Poles are a big bonus on the way down. Expect a challenging and very rewarding hike!

trail running
5 days ago

Best trail system around, hands down.

Memorable hike.

Trip from Houston
Drove from Houston - hiked next day - drove back. Overnight each way. DO NOT TAKE Pecos Highway, 285 or HWY 62 - large potholes and 100 miles of oil drilling trucks, fields, etc.
Stayyed at Super 8 in Sonora - very nicely refurbished and inexpensive.

60 year old ok shape male. Left before dawn at 6:40. Hike for me took about 8 hours plus an hour on top. Glad we left in the morning before it got hot. Had hiking poles - a must if you are not 20-30 something. Had plenty of water and the foul weather gear but the day was beautiful. Day before they had 50 mph winds.

We were going to hike up to the wilderness campsites - but the campsites were full. But we got the last site at the campgrounds at the base - bring ear plugs.
So glad we did not take the 35 pound pack up 2000 feet to the wilderness campsites especially since we would have had a late start.

Brought Nikon D-90 and got some great pics. Picnic on top great.

What is amazing is the perspective - for instance, you will look down on El Capitan and the mini mountains look like dots. So I at once see the immensity of God’s creation and realize how small I am - even yet for one moment when I was the tallest person in Texas. Have fun.

Good trail that is easy to follow. Finished RT right around 4 hours. All levels can do this trail but time will vary. It’s steep in a lot of places and your legs will feel it. It was very windy during certain sections and at the very top.

A view well earned. Trail is is difficult with lots of loose rocks. Start early. Slow and steady will get you there.

on Eagle Rock Loop

backpacking
16 days ago

We hiked the entire loop starting at 2pm on 10/25 thru 5pm on 10/28. We started the trail at Winding Stairs and went counter-clockwise. Amazing trail with plenty of fall colors this time of year! Day 1 we did about 4 miles which was a great start. One hill at the beginning and then relatively flat for the remainder of the day. Day 2 we hiked about 8 miles which put us right before the start of where you do a number of climb and decent areas. Day 3 we did about 7 miles. A tough 7 miles this is the part of the trail that makes it rated "hard". We stayed at the top of Bush Master after a tough hike up to the top. Day 4 we hiked 9 miles and finished the trail with a mostly downhill hike with some up and down.

There are many campsites along all sections of the trail, so we never worried about having a place to stop. With that said we planned to land at a campsite about 1 1/2 hours before sunset to setup and have dinner before dark.

There was a lot of water on this trail. I lost count but there were probably 20 water crossings. On all but maybe 5 you could cross without getting your shoes wet. On 5 the water was about knee deep and we crossed using water shoes. I imagine the water level varies based on rainfall and time of year.

There was no cell coverage on the trail with the exception of the top of hurricane knob and the top of brush heap mountain and even there it was spotty.

One of the top hikes I have done. The terrain, type of trees, rivers, bluffs, meadows and valleys varied substantially throughout the park. All was scenic.

Highly recommend!

backpacking
18 days ago

We did the entire loop 10/26 thru 10/28. It’s a vigorous trail so fitness is important. Water was everywhere so didn’t need to carry much more than what I could drink in 60-90 minutes of activity. No cell service other than on the top of Brush Heap mountain but it’s a task to get there. Awesome experience with incredible views, particularly in the Winding Stairs area. Water was about 50 degrees and was a great refresher on the feet.

Great hike. The initial switchbacks were challenging, but overall the hike was enjoyable. It took me 5 hours total including a break at the top. The weather was cool and the fog created some great scenes. Unfortunately, the clouds obscured the view at the summit, but there were views along the way.

... One of my all time favorite hikes. There is a lot of variety on this trail, especially if you pay attention to small details.

backpacking
20 days ago

I hiked the loop on 10/21 and 10/22/2018 and was very impressed with its scenic beauty and difficulty. Make sure you are in decent shape, especially for the descents on the Athens Big Fork Trail. No need to carry much water. If you get thirsty just bend over and fill your bottle. Some of the best tasting water I’ve ever had. I didn’t bother with water shoes, the crossings are far too numerous. Changing shoes before and after each crossing is just not feasible in my opinion. I hiked with wet trail runners and medium weight wool socks and had no problem with blisters.
There is zero cell service on the trail. Also, some of the mountain roads to the trailheads are paved with hatchets and knives. Flat tires are very common so be prepared.
I’d give this trail 5 stars but then how would I rate the JMT?

backpacking
22 days ago

Nice solo hike. Can be tough if you are not in shape. Campsites could use to have trash picked up. But all in all an awesome trail with amazing views. Also look for several natural springs. I saw 4 this trip.

After doing observation point just 3 weeks earlier, this hike was much tougher than expected. I went in early October and the winds and cold temperatures made it a challenge.

hiking
27 days ago

I have been hiking ERL since 2013 and I have hiked it 10 times since then. It offers such great scenery and great places to camp. I have always wanted some ERL trail merchandise but could find any. So, I decided to design some myself. If your interested in an Eagle Rock Loop tee shirt or window sticker go to https://teespring.com/stores/eagle-rock-loop

backpacking
28 days ago

I first completed the loop in May of 2010. I have completed it 13 times since. One of my favorite hikes!

hiking
28 days ago

This trail lives up to the hype of being one of the most challenging trails in Arkansas. It is poorly marked at time making it to decipher it from the other trails in the area. Have a good trail map downloaded on a reliable hiking app. We used all trails and gut hooks. The is no cell reception in this area (especially sprint). There are plenty of water sources and camping spots with amazing views. There had to be 70 water crossings, only 6 require you to get you feet wet. Started at the Mine Creek rd Trail Head and hiked it counted clock wise. Allow 4 days so you can take your time and enjoy all the amazing views. Great trail, could be a knee wrecker so be ready

Well-maintained and not very steep. Spectacular views the entire way up. Super windy around a few corners when I hiked it last week - definitely bring a jacket.

backpacking
1 month ago

Great, tough hike! I almost scored this trail a 4-star, but it wouldn’t be fair. We had miserable conditions this past weekend, yet we managed to finish it. Day one was drenching rain that never let up. We started at Little Missiouri Falls and walked about 14 miles. The river was swollen, and the crossings were tough. Even the smaller streams were impossible to rock walk over. The last half mile of the first day, the trail was 6-8” underwater. Day 2 was a success in the fact that there was no rain, but we tackled 10 miles of mountains. They were pretty tough, but doable. Brush Heap Mountain was a steep descent from the direction we went!!! Got a fire started that even when the rain started and put it out. That night temperatures dropped into the 40’s. We had about 5-6 miles to walk in cold rain, but we finished the trail. It was beautiful scenery, and a challenging trail. Don’t underestimate the river crossings! Don’t wear hiking boots! Trail runners will dry out much faster! Lessons learned!!!

backpacking
1 month ago

A group of 3 of us completed this trail this past weekend (10/12-10/14).

I knew that Friday’s weather looked decent and there would be rain on Sat & Sun so I called the ranger station to get advice on which trailhead to start at and which direction to travel. I wis told to start at Winding Stairs and travel counterclockwise. That’s what we did.

The first day we hiked a few miles past Little Missouri Falls. That day was not super challenging and the weather mostly cooperated. Light sprinkles that ended by the time we set up camp. Water crossings weren’t too bad. We camped near the river in a nice spot. No fire though due to everything being beyond wet.

Day two we begin with the plan to get past the last peak and find a camp spot. It started raining after about 30 minutes of hiking. I didn’t even bother with rain pants or jacket. The temps were good enough that we were not freezing. It did not take long for my hiking shoes to be completely soaked. At that point, I didn’t even bother removing them when we crossed water. We ended up hiking about 13 miles that day in the rain. It was tolerable and the climbs were not that big of a deal. Camp set up was in the rain and everything was wet. We were a little more than 5 miles from the trailhead by my calcs.

Day three we head out without breakfast. We had been given word that there was a major crossing still ahead of us and we wanted to her there early. We met some guys going the other direction that camped on our side of the river that night. They said when they crossed the day before the water was already thigh high and moving pretty good. This had us very concerned. Our concern was justified when we arrived at the river. It was moving dangerously fast. Two in the group went down river to see if there was a passable route. One even considered swimming across so he could take a rope with him. Somehow I was able to get cell signal when I took my phone off airplane mode. I got on the USGS website and the river was flowing 739cfs @ almost 5 feet. No way we were crossing that without being swept away. It’s a good thing for AllTrails. I was able to pull up the map and determine our only option was to bushwhack our way through the brush to reconnect with the trail further east. This was brutal and really beat us up with yet another climb, thorn filled bushes and slick downhill terrain. We made it through and got back to the truck.

Overall, this is a great trail in close proximity to DFW. I am not in top physical shape and I’m certain I could complete this trail in 2 full days. If you have hiked anything in Colorado or California you will not find this to be a difficult trail. Especially considering it is not done at an elevation that makes you work for each breath. I will definitely be back when there is better weather with a lighter pack and a plan to complete it in two days.

backpacking
1 month ago

Husband and I drove 4.5 hours to hike the trail this weekend , we intended to do the whole loop but the weather was not cooperating . We Started the trail at Winding stair trailhead (hiked clockwise) on Friday 12:30p.m. camped somewhere on the Viles Branch trail , found a nice campsite and enjoyed the evening next to the fire ...that was a pain in the ass to build cause everything was wet . We only made it to West Blaylock , and got a ride back to our vehicle . We plan on going back when the weather is more enjoyable. We met some pleasant people on the trail and hope that everyone that was out there this weekend made it home safe .

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail and very challenging. This is not a trail for beginners. We started on Friday morning at the Winding Stairs trailhead and headed clockwise. We knew there was rain in the forecast for Sunday, so we wanted to be through the climbs by then. The Vile Branch trail (southern part of EGL) is not a terribly challenging trail, but has a lot of water crossings. Don't underestimate the rocks and boulders in the water, they are slick. Bring water shoes and cross the deeper sections the old fashioned way. We saw hiker after hiker try to rock skip only to wind up with their boots under water and their clothes soaked. It's more technical than it looks, but completely passable so long as the water is below about 3.5 feet. Much higher than that and you are going to be fighting a pretty strong current. Be advised, the blazing on this part of the EGL is not always reliable. Having AllTrails running on my phone saved us from miles of off-trail hiking at several junctions.

The Athens-Big Fork trail (western part) is no joke. You don't want to do it in the rain, so plan your progress accordingly. It's not exaggeration to say there are no switchbacks on this section of trail, and there are 6 peaks to climb and descend. The ascents range from 300 feet to about 800 feet ... straight up a 45 degree incline. You want to plan your pack well too, because you don't want 40 pounds on your back as you make those ascents and descents. There is another ~300 foot ascent/descent in the winding stairs area as you close out the loop from that trailhead. Eagle Rock Vista (first summit on the clockwise path) is definitely worth the climb and definitely worth taking a long break to enjoy. It's a truly impressive view.

The Little Missouri trail is probably the easiest and most scenic part of the loop. It's beautiful and easy to crank out big miles there. Just be aware, at the end of that part of the trail, as you return to the winding stairs trailhead, you have one more climb to finish ... and it's pretty brutal after a long day on the trail.

We did the trail in 3 days, but I could easily see spending 4 days out there if you wanted to really enjoy the trail and break it up more. Coming from DFW, this is definitely the hardest trail within a 10 hour drive. It's definitely one to check off the bucket list.

I am an unfit 26 year old who likes to hike occasionally, but otherwise I am inactive. These reviews definitely made me feel ill prepared for this hike, along with the park ranger who advised we not start the hike as late in the afternoon as we did, but we chose not to listen. I’m glad we went ahead!

We started our hike on 10/14 at 2:20pm, reached the summit at 5:07pm, started our trek back down at 5:35pm, and were back at 7:15pm. Lots of stops on the way up, just a couple on the way down. We each took two liters of water. A third probably would have been good to have.

The weather was PERFECT. The wind kept us cool most of the hike. We started in shorts and tank tops. Brought pants and pullovers that we changed into at the summit, but we didn’t need to because it didn’t cool off until after we left the park. It got chilly at times, but the weather was consistent for our hike up and down. The wind wasn’t 50 miles per hour at the summit for us, but barely blowing while we were there. The views were clear, and we could see everything! So amazing!

Passed maybe 25 people who were coming down the mountain on our way up. Passed two people who were going up on our way down. Very peaceful and quiet trail that we had to ourselves most of the hike, so I’m glad we chose that time to go!

It wasn’t as hard as a lot of these reviews make
it seem, but it was hard. Also, our Apple devices said we hiked 10 miles total. We did the hikers only trail, not the horse/hiker trail. Something to keep in mind as well. The trail is well marked, so staying on it is easy. There is a lot of loose gravel/rocks, but it didn’t really seem to be an issue. Just wear hiking shoes.

If you’re planning on doing Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains in the same day, like we did, there’s a time change. Guadalupe is an hour behind Carlsbad.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is very much a fair weather trail. we just got back from a weekend on the trail and it was raining from friday morning to Sunday morning.

The mountainous section is difficult on it's own, but gets exponentially more difficult with water. there are no switchbacks, only straight ascents up the mountains that turn into small streams with rain.

The main thing however is the river. several crossings of the Little Missouri turned from knee-high to belly-high crossings real quick. Any more rain and the river could have become impassable immediately, leaving us stuck waiting on the water to recede. even the easy rock hopping streams became ankle to knee high.

The trail is decently blazed for the most part, but it can be easy to get off the trail. A particular intersection leads to a white blazed trail (same as the rest of the trail) that dead ends in private property.

This trail would be much better in clear weather but the troubles with the trail itself would remain.

All-in-all this is a difficult trail, a good test of your backpacking skill, and would be worth a hike once in clear weather.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hard but very pretty. We did this in two days but it wasn’t a walk in the park. So if your looking to take your time I would recommended 3 days. We hiked clockwise starting at winding stairs which made the first day hard and the second day easy. But was told that counter clockwise and starting at little Missouri would give you the same results. We brought hydration bladders, but there are plenty of streams to use filter bottles if you wish to save weight.

Trekking poles help a lot, and for the dog owners, the rocks on this trail can hurt their pads. So only bring dogs with tougher pads.

My group loved this trail! Be prepared for crazy weather changes! we started off hiking in minimal clothing to bundled up on top and wet! Such an adventure and so much fun!

Hard to rate it well b/c the top part of the mountain was covered in clouds (and cold wind!) all day when I hiked it. So I got no view AND the hike up was pretty miserable b/c of the weather. I can imagine w/o that issue, it would have been a spectacular, five-star hike. The trail is hard b/c of the elevation gain, but the trail is really well-maintained with plenty of switchbacks, so no scrambling necessary! I would love to do the hike again if I could be sure it was going to be a clear day at elevation. (The weather forecast for today was all sunny. NOT.)

To all of the hikers who think this trail would be better without all of the mountain bikers, this trail wouldn't exist if not for the bikers. DORBA (Dallas Off Road Bike Association) created and maintains the trail. Thank the bikers as they pass you for providing such a gem in the DFW metroplex.

Did the trail this past weekend, Saturday afternoon to Monday morning. The trail was well blazed for the most part, had to look out for the orange markers in a couple of spots and ended up backtracking on some spurs. It was a blast anyways though, but the humidity was rough on me and my dog.

backpacking
1 month ago

My wife and I completed this loop last weekend (Oct 5-7). It was really muggy Friday and steamy the next two days as the air cleared out. We went CW, starting at the Athens Big Fork South Trailhead spur just SW of Eagle Rock Vista, knocking out the tough stuff first.

Most notably we saw a mature bear through the western ridges. After hearing prolonged, loud rustling in the trees above, we looked up. We watched as a bear slid 50 feet down a trunk like a fireman on a pole before it ran away from the trail (west). That tree was 30 feet from the trail and 50 feet from us. This took all but 2 seconds. My wife and I stayed still and vigilant for a bit to ensure no other bears were around. It was not aggressive, and I think we startled it/woke it up. The only reason this gets 4 stars is the numerous, numerous water crossings.

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