Santa Elena Canyon Trail

EASY 56 reviews
#5 of 58 trails in

Santa Elena Canyon Trail is a 1.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Terlingua, Texas that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

1.4 miles 183 feet Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

wildlife

This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene. Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail.

Beautiful, short and easy hike on the Rio Grande

walking
7 days ago

We went in December 2015 and very little water to cross BUT very sticky mud and sharp stones underneath. painfully on bare feet! Take shoes with thick soles and have something to change into. Walk short in canyon but great.

8 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

Fun family hike!!

11 days ago

Must do! Awesome hike with magnificent views

12 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Easy short hike with great views of the Santa Elena Canyon and the Rio Grande. Bring water shoes or sandals in case the water levels are high. Take your time exploring around the area and the backcountry roads near-by.

1 month ago

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

The water level was very high when we visited and the trail into the canyon was very hard to access. Terlingua Creek was mostly flooded and you need to get across it to get in. Most of the other visitors were just turning back but we were determined. It took some work but we managed to find a path in that kept us mostly dry. It is seriously worth getting a little wet here. If you turn back and don't go into the canyon you are basically missing the whole thing. The view inside is just spectacular. It's very humbling. The stone walls are utterly enormous. If the water is high when you visit, at least make an attempt to find a way in. It's worth it.

2 months ago

It is a MUST see! We went in labor day. The water level just went down to the warning line so 1/3 of me is under the water. The ground under the water is quite muddy and was hard to walk firmly. These huge rock mountains are really GRANDE that it looks like some action movie scene.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Be prepared for a water crossing at Terlingua Creek. Had to wade across when I visited. Beautiful little meandering trail along the river in the canyon. Very interesting part of Big Bend to visit.

2 months ago

Beautiful.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy trail, moderate incline steps and well worth the view. Keep following the trail and you'll end up on the beach, very close to the Rio Grande.

hiking
3 months ago

4 months ago

Beautiful!