Explore the most popular Backpacking trails in Big Bend National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Climb ends about 1.8 miles in. Great view of Lajitas from top. Mesa scenery doesn’t change after climb.

Definitely the best views in all of Big Bend

hiking
no shade
rocky
7 days ago

Amazing trail! DO NOT pass up the South Rim. It is a must. We started at Juniper Canyon, hiked to Homer Wilson Ranch, and camped up the wash. We cached water at Homer Wilson before we began the hike. On day two we hiked up to the South Rim after filling our water at Boot Canyon and camped at site 7. We reserved the spot and loved having dinner and breakfast on the rim. Day three we hiked back down to our car at Juniper Canyon which was a great way to end the hike. Easy downhill and beautiful views. Can’t wait to come back!

So good! Great views all along the south rim and pretty flat once you get to the rim. I came up Laguna which is not as step as pinnacles and made for an enjoyable ascent and descent. I made this a 17 mile hike by going all the way to the NE rim and boot canyon junction and then turned around retracing my route back to Laguna. The best hike at Chisos basin!

Great hike, was difficult with 40+lbs on the back the first day, but worth the pain and effort. Pinnacles gets steeper as it goes, and the switchbacks become pretty difficult. Some of the steps were like doing a big plyometric box jump. There was tons of water all through boot canyon. Which should be there for the next monthish (Feb 2020) The Rim is everything and more what people tell you. No picture can do justice for the scale and beauty you see. We could clearly see St. Elena canyon in the distance and that was 20miles away. We could see at least 50miles into the mountains from the top of the SW rim. Highly recommend doing the extra elevation and get to the top of the rim, instead of just seeing it along the main trail. Descending via Laguna Meadows was very easy, not tough on the knees at all.

Has to be one if not the best hike so far. So much to see, fantastic views. Conditions do change from close quarters to wide open fields. Took South Rim by way of Pinnacles. Less than 30 minutes into hike came across small Black Bear. Start early as you can, my step counter on this trail alone surpassed 40,000 steps. I’m no professional but glad I prepared and conditioned myself months prior to visiting the park. If you only had one day to visit, do this one!

Went up through meadows and down pinnacles. Took us about 5.5 hours with a few stops and eating lunch at the top. Most beautiful view in the park! I highly recommend if you’re wanting a challenge

hiking
no shade
rocky
16 days ago

Four of us decided to make this our first hike of the week in Big Bend. Coming from the New England area and hiking weekly in the White Mountains, the trail was very smooth in comparison. Hiking down first and then back up was a little different, but enjoyable all the same. The waterfall at Cattail Falls has minimal flow, as it hasn't rained a drop in weeks. However, there was still a trickle and lots of birds flying around by the falls. Our group decided to climb another rock feature we saw, that we dubbed "The Playground." An easy scramble to the top, but be careful if you do this - the drops are steep and far, with no marked trail. All in all, a great hike!

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
17 days ago

I did this trail for the first time in early May 2018 and wrote a review and my experience about it then. I was not properly prepared then for the heat and ended up being dehydrated and with painful muscle crumps. But I made it back and learned from the experience. Since then, I did the trail again in January 2019 and a third time two do days ago. Although true, this can be a dangerous trail, it can be done safely if one prepares for it. And the views are certainly worth it! So, as others also said before, bring at least a gallon of water in winter and more in late spring. If possible, avoid doing it in the summer. And in any case, do not do it alone. And start early (at sunrise) as it gets hit even in winter with no shade and the sun beating down on you. The trail starts easy enough but turns right (East) in a quarter mile steep climb about 1.5 miles into the it. It gets easier for a while and you reach a split at about 3.6 miles. We took the south fork which had us going down a steep incline toward the river for about 3/4 of a mile. This is one of a couple tougher parts of the trail and one needing caution as it is easy to slip on the loose gravel. Here you will have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the river. At about the sixth mile you reach another split where you can go right all the way to the river or continue left for 2 miles to connect to the north fork. If you choose to go to the river, this would add another mile to the distance and make the total trail distance 15 miles(AllTrails is wrong to list the trail as 13.5 miles). When you turn left you will go about 2 miles, much of it parallel to the river, after which you turn left, and navigate through a canyon going steadily up. This is another tough part of the trail you should take care with and look for the cairns to keep you on the trail. Once you get back to the split, you reverse the route you took earlier for 3.6 miles to the trail head.

Awesome hike. I recorded it to be 12.4 miles. I went up the pinnacles side and down the luguna. Did not go up to Emory peak. Took a little less than 7 hours with a few breaks. There was snow and ice throughout the trail, which is very rare, but be sure to watch your footing if that’s the case. You will be hurting by the end of it but the views are worth every bit of it.

hiking
22 days ago

Really nice primitive trek. Only saw one other group the whole time. I did south fork first, which I highly recommend. I did a short first day, camping up top on the south rim prior to descending into the canyon. The rangers mentioned that the sites down by the river can be a little dangerous, so I opted to camp there instead. Loved my spot, had a great sunset view over Mexico! You’ll notice a large flat area right on the trail just prior to descending into the canyon, and there are a few pre-established tent plots around there. The north fork on day 2 is much more challenging, but very beautiful. Pay attention to carins, as I can see how it would be easy to get turned around. I didn’t have any trouble, but if I hadn’t been paying close attention I would’ve gotten turned around pretty frequently. Significant climb to get out of the canyon, definitely a challenging day 2! Felt longer than 8.5 miles on day 2. No shade on the south fork, so plan accordingly. Also no places to filter water, so pack it all in!

Really wonderful trail! The emery peak offshoot is pretty challenging, especially with a heavy pack, but absolutely worth it. Day 1 up pinnacle to the east rim is all uphill, and certainly a long day so plan accordingly! But day 2 down laguna is all significant downhill. The south rim is wonderfully vast and beautiful! Be sure to watch the subset while you’re up there. No places to filter water, so pack it all in with you.

Great trail—every part offered a different view. There are a lot of shaded parts so layer up if you’re going in the winter. My body temp changed a lot throughout. Also, start with pinnacles trail. It’s the hardest part so it’s good to do that first and on the incline.

backpacking
23 days ago

Did this late December, adding South Rim (a must) and Boot Canyon (there was water at the spring). Magical place. I did 2 days, 1 night starting at Homer Wilson going clockwise. Slept in Juniper Canyon when I ran out of light. Think I accidentally passed my designated campsite, or it was already occupied. They are not clearly marked once you get out of South Rim, which was full. If I had to do it again, I’d probably add a third day and start at Chisos visitor center go clockwise and cache water at Homer Wilson. Sleeping along the Dodson Trail would be fun. Quite a few campsites and you’re not restricted on where you can sleep down there. Fresno Creek was trickling but I didn’t need water at the time. My one takeaway is not to underestimate Dodson. One reviewer described it as deceptively grueling and I would agree. I didn’t eat enough my first day and heading from Juniper Canyon to Homer Wilson on the Dodson was a bit of a grind for the second day. It seemed tougher than the numbers show and I was wiped by the end. Load up on calories if you’re doing it in 2 days. As for the folks who do this in one day ... hats off. That’s pretty wild.

no shade
25 days ago

I did a three-day backpack with a basecamp maybe a quarter-mile beyond the saddled and then one day went all the way out to Tinaja Blanca. The hardest part of this hike is the steep climb up to the saddle. After that it's a fairly flat trail with some gently rolling washes along the way and pretty well cairned and obvious, at least til right before Mariposa. LOVE the expansive views and the isolation of the Mesa!

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
25 days ago

Great Hike! Took us about 8 hours, and there’s a little more than 2500 ft of elevation gain. Take the Pinnacles trail first because it has the most incline.

hiking
rocky
scramble
26 days ago

hiking
28 days ago

This was an epic hike! I am 53 with arthritis, and though not in the best shape have sufficient stamina, love to hike, and love a challenge. I went up Laguna Meadows and down Pinnacles, and don't regret that choice. Negotiating the steps and rocks down Pinnacles with my poles was preferable to the scores of breather-breaks and energy expended going up. But if I do go again I would love to go down Laguna Meadows so see it from that perspective. One bit of frustration in reading the reviews for this trail in advance was that I could not discern what made the trail so difficult other than the extreme length. This was my first time hiking out West. Most of my strenuous hiking has been in New Hampshire, primarily Franconia Notch. For those who have also hiked extensively here you know that trails rated Hard (even some trails rated Moderate) may involve scrambling, extensive distances of just large rocks and roots where you may not even know where the trail is save for the colored markers on the trees, and steep, straight-up inclines. For those contemplating South Rim trail for the first time please note that at no point will you need to use your hands to proceed or lose the trail (unless you want to).

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