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Outer Mountain Loop

HARD 49 reviews
#11 of 72 trails in

Outer Mountain Loop is a 24.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Big Bend National Park, Texas that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from November until April.

Distance: 24.1 miles Elevation Gain: 5,708 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

views

wildlife

rocky

no shade

no dogs

Though a favorite of many experienced hikers, this beautiful backpacking loop is a challenge. Many people do not complete the loop due to the heat, lack of shade, and the amount of water required to be packed ahead of time. Make sure to read up and be prepared for this hike before hitting the trail.

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!

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.

hiking
4 months ago

You need enough water! Cache water is a must! The terrain has a lot of jagged rocks so you need good solid shoes. Worth the effort as a trail

hiking
no shade
rocky
9 months ago

10 months ago

Just got done with this trail a week ago. The weather was absolutely perfect!! I would highly suggest going at the beginning of March. We started at the Chisos and went around clockwise. I brought 5 and a half liters of water which ended up being perfect for me. But 80% of the trek through the desert there was a lot of cloud coverage. If it wasn't for that coverage I would have needed much more. We were told that Fresno Creek had running water so I took the chance to refill there. I wouldn't count on that unless you are told by Rangers and many people that the Creek is flowing. I also cached a gallon of water at Homer Wilson which was the perfect amount for me to get through the rest of the hike. This hike is not for the faint of heart, but every last second of it was worth it. The views are epic and it really did refresh my thinking and my life. I would recommend this hike to anyone that has been backpacking before. If this is your first time, you might want to start a little smaller. Half of the people that we met along the trail bailed out at Homer Ranch. Come prepared and be ready for a hike of your life!!

hiking
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

We hiked the OML starting at Homer Wilson and moved counter-clockwise. Day 1–started at 4PM and hiked 4.5 miles along the southern portion of Dodson Trail. Day 2-finished the Dodson and hiked the Juniper Canyon until the backcountry camping area ended (10 miles). Day 3-hiked up the mountain and made 2 excursions: Emory Peak and South Rim. Both additions to the OML were well worth the effort and time. Emory Peak includes a scramble to the top, which made for a nice reward. We ended the day at a Blue Creek campsite. Day 4-left before sunrise and hiked down Blue Creek Trail back to Homer Wilson. Seeing the stars and sunrise while trekking down the mountain was awesome. We carried about 8 liters of water each, which was plenty. We did refill the small amount consumed at Fresno Creek, and the weather was cool throughout. Great trip!

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked this trail according to the AllTrails route rather than the National Park Services’ suggested itinerary. The AllTrails route links the Blue Creek Trail with the Pinnacles Trail via the Colima Trail. The NPS’ route utilizes the Laguna Meadow Trail and connects to the Pinnacles Trail near the Chisos Mountain Lodge. Many hikers choose to start the loop at the Chisos Basin. AllTrails lists this distance as 24.1 miles. I measured it closer to 27 miles. A group of friends and I completed this loop as a day hike on March 1st. We started at Homer Wilson Ranch and trekked counter clockwise. We cached water at the Juniper Canyon Trailhead rather than depend on unreliable natural water sources. If you opt for the latter approach, I would strongly recommend you consult the forum on the BigBendChat website regarding water conditions beforehand. It could be dangerous if this is underestimated. On the other hand, if you choose to cache water at Juniper Canyon, this involves driving down a poorly maintained dirt road. We drove a pick-up with high clearance. I believe smaller vehicles could make it at the price of minor body damage. The road is very narrow. If two vehicles with low clearance meet, I could foresee problems if someone misjudged a spot to pullover. You might find yourself with an expensive towing bill and no one to call as there is no cellphone reception. Also remember you are responsible for all containers as there is no trash service here. You need to cache water in something that can easily be packed out. As far as the trail itself, we started just before sunrise and completed the Dodson Trail early. I believe this was a wise decision. I had not done a lot of desert hiking, but this trail is totally exposed. I did not find the terrain terribly difficult, but the constant sun exposure is a game changer. Temperatures peaked in the upper 80’s. I could not imagine safely hiking this part of the loop under hotter conditions. This section was fairly well marked. There were cairns at frequent intervals to deter a wrong turn down an animal trail or washout. Hiking up the Juniper Canyon Trail in the early evening to meet the Pinnacles Trail was the most strenuous part of the loop for us. Fortunately, you encounter small trees during the ascent, which can block the sun and make for a rejuvenating break if needed. As you reach the Pinnacles Trail portion of the loop, the landscape has transformed into moist woodlands. It is hard to believe that merely hours ago I was walking through a rugged shrub desert. Cutting through the Colima and Laguna Meadows Trails, we enjoyed the sunset while descending the Blue Creek Trail back to Homer Wilson Ranch. There was a lot of loose rock on the Blue Creek Trail. If you are not paying attention, coupled with fatigue, you could easily lose your balance or twist an ankle (trekking poles advised). It was a personal challenge to complete this loop as a day hike, and I am glad that I accomplished my goal. We were able to finish in just over 13 hours including a half hour for lunch and several stops up the Juniper Canyon Trail to rest. I suggest a headlamp if choosing to complete this as a day hike at a reasonable pace as you will likely either begin or end the trail under poor lighting. This loop is a great way to experience most of the ecosystems in Big Bend via a single hiking experience (the river floodplain is the only major formation you will not encounter). The loop is probably more manageable as a section hike, but this involves getting a $12 backcountry permit and interrogation by the park staff. I had a five-star experience with this hike, although it is not necessarily the best way to enjoy the beauty of Big Bend. For those looking for a challenge that involves less planning and great views, I would recommend the South Rim and Boot Springs Trails, which can be completed in a loop with the Laguna Meadows Trail. If I had to pick a single hike with the best payoff, I believe the Lost Mine Trail (aka Casa Grande Peak via Lost Mountain Trail) would take the prize.

11 months ago

a challenge but beautiful. definitely cache water at 2 locations if possible.

hiking
11 months ago

24 miles is not accurate. The outer mountain loop is about 37 miles. Carry enough water to last a while! The distance to water points is also not accurate. Add a few miles between points. Overall a good challenging trail. I just joined the app but completed this hike in late March of 2018. I do not recommend going any later than that because it’s not hot, it’s F***ING hot.

Wed Dec 05 2018

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.

hiking
Sat Dec 01 2018

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.

hiking
Fri Sep 21 2018

This hike is difficult but rewarding. Some choose to hike the trail clockwise which takes them down Juniper Canyon trail the first day. I would advise this, as I have done the trail counter clockwise and day 3 up Juniper Canyon can be extremely strenuous. Personally the second day down the Dodson was the most difficult. We made out hike in early spring but the lack of shade and the extreme temperature swing in the afternoon really made the last half of the day MISERABLE. This was all replaced after the camp was set up and the stars came out. Hands down the clearest I have ever seen the stars in my life. I would recommend caching water at Homer Wilson and Juniper Canyon. We ended up with extra water in the end but as many of you know the weather in Big Bend can fluctuate rapidly. Weather forecast for the day we hiked the Dodson called for highs in the low 80's but it was easily 100 degrees in the afternoon. So a little extra water isn't going to hurt. It actually makes for a pretty refreshing cool down before the final stretch back down into the basin. This trail is very rewarding with spectacular views and solitude but can be very dangerous if you go in unprepared. Carry plenty of water, and KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS!

hiking
Tue Apr 03 2018

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
Tue Mar 27 2018

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.

hiking
Wed Feb 28 2018

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
Tue Feb 06 2018

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
Mon Feb 05 2018

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!

hiking
Wed Jan 24 2018

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.

hiking
Sun Dec 31 2017

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.

backpacking
Wed Mar 22 2017

Great trail. Very scenic and lightly traveled. Take care to bring enough water. Carry what you think you need then add 25% more. Cache water at both cache points. Do not count on springs for water. Be preparers for the sun as there is no shade. This being said it's worth every step.

backpacking
Thu Mar 16 2017

Fantastic hike! It's tough, be sure to plan and read weather forecasts. Definitely cache water! We put 2 gallons per person in the bear boxes at Homer Wilson Ranch and used all of it. The scenery changes every day from wooded mountains on day one, desert on day 2 to hoodoos and a stream bed hiking trail on day 3. I think the hardest part of this hike is pack weight due to the amount of water you have to carry. Practice around your neighborhood or local park carrying at the very least 5 liters along with everything else you plan to bring. It will help you decide between absolute needs and wants. There will be a variety of weather, you can bet on it. We had rain on the last day, downhill part of the trail, that was cold. Temp in the low 40s after a dry day in the desert in the 80s in February.

backpacking
Thu Mar 02 2017

This trail will show you what you are made of. It took us 4 days and 3 nights to complete the 30 mile journey with a group of 4. It took us a little longer than normal because we were beginner backpackers (this trail was my first backpacking experience, go big or go home right?) This trail is both mentally and physically challenging. It is steep loose rock trail that goes up and down mountains with cacti about to poke you on one side and cliff on the other side. We experienced weather as cold as 25 degrees on top of the mountain and as hot as 100 when we were running out of water trekking to the cache. This trail is ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING!! The scenery was always changing. Despite the level of difficulty this outer mountain loop presents it is 100% worth your time and effort. Make sure to do your research before you come and don't forget to hit up the hot springs by the Rio Grande. (you wont regret it especially after trekking this outer mountain loop)

camping
Mon Dec 19 2016

Crazy awesome experience. A lot longer than expected due to all the switchbacks. Well worth it though. Bring water and store water. Fresno was the only suitable place I was able to get water filtered at.

hiking
Tue Jul 14 2015

Here's my quick, down and dirty story of hiking the Outer Loop, AKA what NOT to do!!!!! After being talked out of hiking the Outer Loop by a Park Ranger in March 2015, I spent a few days hiking through the Chisos Mtns. It was absolutely beautiful. However, over the next few months I became more and more disappointed in myself that I let the Park Ranger talk me out of hiking The Outer Loop. So I headed back at the beginning of June 2015, bound and determined to do it. I started at the Chisos store and made it to juniper springs no problem. Juniper springs was flowing pretty good so I was very confident in the other springs along the Outer Loop Trail. Just my luck, they weren't flowing at all. So I was out of water, my body was way too hot and I was only a few miles into The Outer Loop Trail. Thank goodness there was a full moon because I pretty much had no choice but to hike through the night so as to avoid the heat of the day. Throughout the night, after hiking uphill, I would practically collapse from the heat and being exhausted. My body literally would just shut down and I would fall asleep from anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. I would awake cooled down and feel much better, only until I had to hike up a few more hills and repeat the whole process again. I pulled into Homer Wilson Ranch about 7:30 that morning and drank a gallon and a half of water. I didn't pee for over 3 hours afterwards. I left Homer Wilson about 10:30 and started the big ascent up into the Chisos Mtns. All the while repeating the "get too hot, pull over and take a nap" scenario. After one 30 minute nap, before I even moved a muscle, I measured my pulse........ 120 while lying down in the shade!!! Once I crested the Chisos Mtns and started my descent into the Chisos Basin, I had no problems whatsoever. In a huge twist of irony, Mother Nature decided to turn on the faucet and it rained on me the last mile. Ha!

hiking
Tue Jan 27 2015

I did this loop in 3 days/ 2 nights with 2 other girls. We cached a gallon of water each at Homer Wilson Ranch. I drank about 2 liters before starting and carried an additional 3 liters and 1 gallon. The first night we camped about 1.5-2 miles past the Juniper Canyon bear box. The second night we camped about 1.5-2 miles past Homer Wilson Ranch. The trail was well marked with cairns--especially at points where the trail crossed creek beds. This was my first time hiking in the desert and I also coordinated and lead the trip. We finished on Christmas day. It was such a delightful and welcome surprise to find out that the lodge was having a Christmas buffet! What a treat after days of trail mix and pb&j. :) The views were spectacular and I loved every minute of it. Big Bend will always have a special place in my heart. It is a true Texas treasure.

hiking
Fri Apr 04 2014

I did this loop in 3 days. It was an amazing experience and Big Bend has become one of my favorite national parks. I started from Chisos with 10 liters of water and a gallon at the Homer Wilson ranch. I used every bit of it. The first night I camped about a half mile into the Dodson from the Dodson/Juniper Canyon intersection. At that intersection there is a bear box with emergency water and could maybe be used as a water cashe (you'd probably need 4wd to get there by vehicle). The second night I was maybe a mile up the Blue Creek Trail from the Blue Creek/Dodson intersect. The water cashe at Homer Wilson, near this intersection, is right off a paved road and easily accessible. I had back country permits for both nights and I found it difficult to find good campsites that complied with he rules of being out of sight of the trail and in an undisturbed area. Its wasn't impossible, but it took a bit of effort after the long, almost 10 mile, days I was doing. That being said, I found the distance and terrain to be quite strenuous for a 3 day trek. Some people would find this loop more enjoyable by adding a third night. The last hike back to Chisos was the shortest of the three days. I started around 8 am and was back to my car around 1230 pm. The other days lasted from 8 till about 430 or 5. Overall, I had a great time and won't hesitate to go back for round two! Stay safe out there, do your research and Be Prepared. -Peace

hiking
Sat Apr 14 2012

We did this trail in Nov 2011. Most begin this trail in the Basin, however, we chose to encounter as few others as possible and began at the Dodson trail head at the end of the Juniper Canyon road. This route consists of the Dodson trail, Blue Creek trail, Laguna Meadow, South Rim, Boot Canyon and Juniper Canyon. It was 28.1 miles long. We took our time and took 5 nights to complete this trail; we cached water, food and clothes at the cache box near the Homer Wilson Ranch House. It was simply glorious to spend the amount of time we did in this remnant of The Garden. Prepare yourself with other trips to Big Bend first and read what the NPS site has to say about this trail before taking it on. Check out the link I have provided for a detailed report on this hike with many photos and video! http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/doing-it/

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