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.

17 days ago

I did this 14 mile trail with my daughter in May a week ago. The rangers recommended against doing it at this time of year because of the heat and the absence of any shade. We did it anyway, starting at sunrise. We took the south fork and were at the river by 10:30AM, a bit ahead of our estimated 30 minute miles. On the way back and around the 9 mile mark I started having terrible muscle crumbs. Apparently I wasn’t drinking enough water. I had brought 4 liters with me and was pacing myself drinking it knowing the heat would increase as the day went on but then I couldn’t hydrate fast enough. The fact we did another 7 mile desert hike the day before didn’t help. Temperature was 96 degrees and there is no shade and on top of that we were at one of the most strenuous uphill parts of the trail. Happily my daughter had decided to pack a bit more water and with short periodic stops for my muscle crumbs to subside we made it back to the car at 3:15PM just about an hour and 15 minutes longer than we estimated. We were the only ones hiking the trail that day (my car was alone in the parking area when we left and when we got back). I would not recommend doing this trail in hot weather. If you do, hydrate yourself the day before and bring LOTS of water. In the end I ended up consuming 5 liters but that was the minimum. With all the issues, I still enjoyed the trail as there are some beautiful mountain view’s! I would do it again but in winter.

on Marufo Vega Trail

27 days ago

Rugged, beautiful and isolated. Doable as a day trip if you're in good shape.

1 month ago

started hike at 7.30 p.m. reached the chimney just as sun went behind the mountain . cactus was blooming and scenery lovely with the sun low on horizon. trail easy to follow by starlight. did not need headlamps until last .5 mile.

Long and strenuous, the South Rim Trail took us a little over 7 hours to finish with a few breaks and a 15-minute lunch on the rim. We took Pinnacles to Boot Canyon and climbed down the Laguna Meadows Trail. We left from the Chisos Basin at 8am, but didn’t start climbing down Laguna Meadows until 1pm and the heat started taking a real toll on us. Even though there are three toilets along the way, we really had to go during the last four miles and tried to hustle our way down. People don’t often talk about the after effects of doing hard hikes but our bodies felt overheated and in shock the rest of the day. We felt much better the next day.

Went counterclockwise since we did Emory Peak last spring break, so wanted a new experience. Started at 8am and didn't see any people the first 90 mins, but did come across deer 3 miles in. Had a nice long lunch on south rim. 7.5 hours including lunch and several breaks for photos. Great day hike and not too strenuous. Enjoy!!!

This is the trail to do if you come to Big Bend. We did Emory Peak along the way. Started at 7 am, took 3 hours to Emory Peak. Trail gets rough near the peak, but it's there. 2 more hours to the Rim from there, then approximately 3 more hours back to the trailhead. Including stops and lunch, about 9 hours to complete the 15 miles.

As far as preparation, we did bring toilet paper as there are bathrooms along the trail. 25L of water between 5 people was way more than we needed. Probably 2.5-3L per person would have been right. Admittedly it was cool and cloudy when we hiked, so warmer weather should warrant more than that.

The views are all there, just come prepared and it'll be a great hike!

Completed the OML 3-13-18 to 3-15-18 three days two nights during spring break week. I would not recommend attempting this hike during spring break for those planning ahead next year it was a zoo. If you must do it during spring break then go towards the end of the week it was much less crowded no line to get into the basin.

Would also recommend bigbendchat.com to learn more about the trail and get excellent advice and updates on water locations that can be found on the trail. I was able to filter 4 L of water from a spring on the trail that I learned about from this website.

Overall it is a gorgeous, but tough hike so be sure to pack as light as possible since you’ll be carrying a lot of water with you. Additionally, stay the night at the lodge or perhaps in Alpine Texas and get to the panther junction station early next day so that you can get desirable campsite locations. We did not get to panther Junction until around 1:30 PM so were stuck with zone camping in Juniper Canyon first night and blue Creek zone camping the second night making day two a long 15.5 mile day.

Lastly, as other reviewer‘s have mentioned this trail is hard and not for the beginner backpacker. Unfortunately, we ran into a group of young men in their late teens early 20s who were ill prepared for this trail. They had started on the Dodson trail. One person had a day pack and was carrying his sleeping bag in his arms. I don’t know if the group made it past the basin, but he did not look like he was having a good time when we caught up to them midway on the Dodson trail.

Best advice for the OML is to plan ahead and have the right gear.

Fantastic hike!

Toughest Hike I have ever done.... YOU MUST PREPARE! Recommend bigbendchat.com and read everything.

Extremely demanding loop with a very high failure rate, and not for the inexperienced. Couple of thoughts/lessons.

1. This trail is no joke, water is a big issue, and I can see this trail flat out being very very dangerous for inexperienced or unprepared backpackers.
2. I can't imagine doing this trail much past mid-march, the Dodson was pretty brutal in the afternoon already
3. I wore shorts which was stupid, although I enjoyed the coolness, zipper pants for flexibility in the desert would have been better
4. We added both Emory Peak and the South Rim (at SW3) to the trip (total mileage ended up being 43 miles due to some side trial action. Unless you have been or plan to return I cannot imagine doing the OML without adding the South Rim, it was far and away the best part of the whole trip.
5. The trail is rough, very very rocky, and suggest you put a lot of time in prep into your shoe/sock/feet/knee plan as I think those issues are most likely to cause a stoppage.
6. I carried a 4.5L water capacity and drank at least 2 litrer before every fill up (beginning, upper juniper, and Homer Wilson). That was enough, although I wish I had probably 1 more liter on the Dodson and going up Blue Creek in the afternoon.
7. Make sure you have a plan for lots of electrolytes, I think that is a game changer vs. just plain water.
8. Pack light! My pack was 10-15 lbs lighter than my buddies and I think was the difference in finishing/not finishing. I also cowboy camped with only a groundsheet and emergency tarp (that I needed one night) which saved a good amount of weight.

My wife and I went out via Pinnacles (more elevation change) and returned via Laguna Meadows and I would recommend it.

We hike slightly faster than average but are by no means 'speedy.' The whole loop took us 5 hours of hiking with an additional 0.5 hr lunch break at the Rim. (We did not go to Emory Peak or take the NE Rim).

Trail Difficulty: Moderate (mainly just long)
Exposure: Moderate, plenty of shaded areas.

It was an ~80F day, I had about 2 L of H20 which seemed reasonable. However, I had at least one already that morning before starting.

Beautiful trail. Strenuous, but manageable. Will definitely be back!

3 months ago

A rather long and monotonous hike through the desert, to reach some Indian petroglyphs and rock outcrops. The petroglyphs are at he base of the southern-most pinnacle, with an unmarked but distinct path leading to it.

Long day way, but worth the effort for the stunning views. Do the full South Rim circuit (Southeast and Northeast Rim trails). Camping sites available along the South Rim. If there's one walk you do in Big Bend NP, do this one...

Backpacked overnight, not terribly strenuous. Views were spectacular. Will definitely be back.

Must do. Took Pinnacles to Emory Peak, Boot Canyon down around SE Rim, around South Rim back up Laguna in one day. ~17 miles in ~10 hours. Made for a long day but was incredibly worth it.

Really tough hike for me, but well worth it! A picture can’t do justice to the views. Recommend staying in SE 4 campsite.

Loved every minute of it! I camped at SE1 and to say I was a happy camper is putting it lightly! The views were incredible. A saw enough people, but had plenty of alone time as well. It was perfect.

Awesome views and very challenging! Loved every minute! My new favorite trail. Going down just a scenic.

Ran it in 2:20 excluding ~20 minutes of picture taking. Nice trail with a variety of scenery & terrain. Really loved the Boot Canyon. The view is a big payoff

A tough hike with outstanding views lots of snow on the mountains which was refreshing to see. Took almost 6 hours to do 12 miles, stopped for snacks and views of amazing landscape a couple of times. Would highly recommend comfortable boots that you have trust in. Loved the Hike and the park.

Great views, campsites.

Excellent hike. Very demanding. Can be done in two days, but recommend three. Well marked. No water, have to cache. Primitive campsites few and far between. Zone camping allowed once past the main trails in the park, but the terrain is very rugged, so plan carefully.

4 months ago

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

By far the best hike I’ve ever done. Rewarding, and challenging.

4 months ago

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

Beautiful views, enjoyed every bit of it!

My GF and I did this in Mid-October. Great sunny and mild temperatures. We camped as well. Tbh, I had never been to Big Bend, and totally overshot my expectations- I had no idea there could be so much lush beautiful in Texas!

Camping sucked- not a big deal, it happens. I saw some baby bears, and decided to camp in the more populated camping areas, where there were some loud teenagers.

The hike itself was great. Not very trekked, so traffic was light. The switchbacks going up and down for 1.5miles each way is def a Quad killer. The views at the top are amazing and worth it! You’ll feel the reward. Bring a hammock and take it all in at the top when you get there!

That said- I felt every bit of the 12.5 miles the next day.
Would def do it again. Would def also get permits and camp that trail. It’s a beautiful hike. A lot of water options. A lot of wildlife too. This is a very desolate hike- meaning hard to get to if you were to need help or bailout, so prepare yourself accordingly.

Ps. I have more pictures and info on this and my other BackCountry hiking explorations on my IG- Colewurlddd

What a great loop backpack trip with a lot a changes in elevation. Great views with lots of variety of habitats. According to my mapping software the total climbing elevation was 11,324 feet. At least 1 water cache is required by the NPS. It's a very demanding multi day backpacking trip. Give yourselves plenty of time to complete each day. There were groups that didn't complete the first day until 10:30 at night ran out of water halfway through the second day.

Great hike, but strenuous!

Added the North Rim Loop to this loop, great long day hike.

5 months ago

This trail is a day hiker’s dream. We hiked it on a warm day in December, the temps hovered in the 60s and the skies were overcast. I would NOT hike this trail in any kind of heat. We found the trail well-marked with cairns, and we never lost our way over the course of the 14 miles. Recommend hiking the loop counter clockwise. The South Fork is difficult and steep, but it was much better hiking down than up. Hiking up the North Fork is beautiful and breezy. It’s a great trail the whole way around, highly recommend it!

Load More