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

Started at Juniper Point and finished at Paw Paw Trailhead over the course of roughly 45.5 hours. Day 1: 3 miles, Day 2: 7 Miles: Day 3: 2 Miles.

Eastern half of the trail includes at least 2 major elevation changes per mile. Western half is much flatter, but not as scenic and lots of trash from washouts, flooding, and litter.

Camped first night just past Cedar Bayou Marina, and second night past Lakeside Park. Ton's of places to camp along the entire trail, I saw a few places that would have been great, but it was too early to stop for the day.

There are plenty of downed trees throughout and washouts on some slopes. I don't mind the downed trees, just walk around, but the washouts are tricky. You definitely need a trekking pole on the eastern half if you are carrying an overnight pack, maybe even if you aren't.

If I did this trail again, I would start at Paw Paw and get as close to Eagles Roost as I could on Day 1, then split the western half over a full Day 2 and partial Day 3. I would include Lost Loop(did not do it this time)

Despite less than stellar all around maintenance, the trail is marked rather well. Only a couple times that I could not find the next marker right away when the path became unclear, never felt lost or confused though.

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!

Awesome hike, took 2:30 getting to the peak for an 8 am sunrise. Most challenging part was the cold and windy conditions going up, but that dissipated after sunrise. Definitely felt the elevation the first half mile but got acclimated to it after that. Like others have said, very windy at the top. Quick and easy coming down. 5 hours round trip was tiring but easily doable. Sunrise from the peak is absolutely amazing!

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!

My son 17 and I 45 enjoyed the change in terrain and clear markings along the way. It felt like we were traveling through different areas in one hike. We got a late start so we only made it through 12 of the 14 miles, I was pretty sore the next day with the changes in elevation on this hike.

Very underwhelming. Nothing really to write about. It was hot, dry and the trail has a lot of thorny plants to get your clothes ripped on. And what do you see for all the trouble? Nothing.

This was my first trail to do by myself with just my dog. I started at Neches and camped at Walnut Creek, then trekked back. Super easy to follow and absolutely beautiful. I went during spring break so I came across quite a few people. Caching water was easy once I found the trail crossing. One big bridge is out so be ready for that. All of the others were sturdy. Definitely hiking this one again but bringing people so I can hike on thru!

really fun trail to take the kids on.

6 days ago

Had a great weekend here with my son (10) camping and hiking. We did the full trail and all the loops twice over the weekend. It is a great trail for young and novice hikers. There are some more technical aspects to the trail in the red section, but isn't terribly challenging in the other parts of the trail system. We had a blast. I had never camped here before. I've been to Isle du Bois more times than I can count, and it has a great DORBA trail system too ... but this was my first time at Johnson Branch.

Our site was in the "Dogwood Canyon" primitive camping area, and the sites there are great. If you are a hammock camper (like me) you will want to avoid most of the waterfront sites in that area for lack of good hanging options. However, the inland sites offer plenty of places to hang your hammock, and are a little more sheltered from the winds that can come in strong off the lake (like we had this weekend).

The total trail system is about 9 miles if you do all the loops, which is substantially smaller than the sister park on the other side of the lake (Isle du Bois) ... but the foot traffic is noticeably less and we only encountered a handful of bikes on the trail. It was a great weekend and we'll definitely be back. The trail is a great one to do some training on for longer backpacking trips and hikes. I was pleasantly surprised to find this little gem right around the corner from where everyone else goes when they try to camp at Lake Ray Roberts.

Spectacular hike! Beautiful views from the beginning. The first mile is tough, pretty steep but its a good trail and well maintained. Top half was real windy, 30+mph so come prepared. Unbelievable views at the top make every step worth it. 5:11 up and down for our ave fit group. Highly recommend!

A lot of hikes on here are rated as hard and a lot of times are more medium in my opinion. This one however is a hard hike. My wife and I both had our backpacking packs on 30-45lbs and both agreed even without our packs if we were just day hiking it, it still would have been a good workout. I highly recommend this hike! The views are incredible and the top is worth the struggle it takes to get there.!

If you camp up at Guadalupe peak campsite it’s around 8000ft it is poorly marked. So when you hit the trail marker that says camp site to the right of the main trail you need to follow what almost looks like a small game trail over the next ridge and then you will find the sites. I’d say it’s probably .1/8th mile from the main trail.

As we came down after camping the winds were around 50-60 mph gusts and hard to stay standing at times. We had winter gear and wind breakers otherwise it would have been pretty brutal up there.

Coming down we ran into people with hardly any water, wearing sandals, or very little clothes. Just make sure you check the weather and are prepared. I’m pretty sure a number of those people probably had to turn back before making the summit. Hopefully this helps. If you take the right gear this hike is amazing!!

8 days ago

Great 2 day hike. Start off at Cedar Breaks and hike about 15mi to Walnut Creek primitive camp site. There are a lot of good spots to pitch your tent and you can head down to a small beach to cool off in the water! After that it’s about 11 more miles around the lake. Really enjoy this spot, decent views, good people, a diamond in the rough if you’re looking to get some good mileage in.

Great trail with spectacular views. I did it at age 60. Get out there.

I came at 6:45am on a 60 degree Saturday morning and hiked the Cattail Pond/Fossil Valley/Cedar Brake trails, & tho it was totally packed at 9am when I left, there weren't many people at all on the trails for most of my hike. Really lovely scenery and trails - nothing compared to, like, the Wichita Mountains, but for so close to Dallas it's great, I'll be back a lot. Cattail Pond is a terrific place to be just after sunrise :-)

My son and I started from fm2426 and hiked east 19 miles. The trail was great. Well marked but not very well travelled. We hiked 2 days and camped 2 nights. The only negative I can say is that a game warden took interest in my son's truck and ran his tags, got all his info and texted him questioning as to his intention. We informed him what we were doing and that we were ok. That should have been the end of that but instead he contacted federal park police who went and checked my truck at the park on Toledo Bend. We had paid the fee for day use and were all legal. However, when we exited the trail, in the rain, the federal park K-9 unit was waiting for us. He ran up on us like we were wanted murder suspects and began telling us all the facts they had mined on us and how we should have left a note as to our actions on my son's truck on fm 2426. Wow! Nothing better to do? Overall a good time though.

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.

Rating is based on comparable trails for this area. Southeast Texas is mostly flat, and swampy, and very heavily wooded, and so is most of the trail. The North end of the trail, by Neches, has the only real hills and probably the prettiest part of the hike. I took a boy scout troop here and everyone enjoyed it. Its very easy to follow, with blazes the entire length. There are a number of bridges with the majority of them being pretty sketch so I would skip where possible as they are very slick. One on the North section crosses a river and is completely washed away so you have to find a shallow spot to cross. The trail is best travelled in the winter due to the bugs. Its pretty swampy and on a warm day the mosquitos will be out. We did it in February and even had some. Also, from what I can tell its a well traveled trail. There were at least 2 other large groups there when we were there. Ratcliff lake is a very pretty campground so a great place to stay over the night before. The Neches campground is free and you get what you pay for. There is a shelter at the halfway point about a half mile past FS511, going North. Due to the number of people, plan on it already being used. The area directly around it has really high grass and is pretty buggy. My recommendation, stash water at FS511, then camp just North of there off the trail, Its a nice area on a slight hill. Or keep heading North about .5 miles past the shelter, the forest is pretty clear and lots of space. I drove most of the road up there FS511 (both crossings) & FS526 are easily passable in just about any car. The gps route is not completely accurate where it cuts west and goes across 517, and the map at this point doesn't show a road that is there. The trail parallels this logging road for a .5 mile or so, you can see it on the satellite view. Also, we never did see FS517, so not sure it still exists or not. The area was recently burned so it was probably hidden, but doesn't appear to be a road that can be used anymore. Probably due this trail again in a year or so. Also, lots of ponds along the route so if you take a small rod there is probably some fish there.

26 days ago

Our first backpacking trip. We made it a 3 day 2 night trip. It is definitely a hard trail, but when done we felt so accomplished. The trail was clearly marked 98% of the time. It looks to have new “blazes” that clearly mark it as the TBTL. We did notice though that over time it has been marked several different ways. Along with what I have already mentioned, you will see original aluminum, yellow, and white. Some of the aluminum are really hard to see due to discoloration (turned black). We only got turned around a couple of times. There is one power line crossing that is not clearly marked and we went about 1/2 mike out of our way. The other time wasn’t near that long. We did not stash water. We used our sawyer mini filter and only pulled from running creeks. No one got sick. Water tasted great.

This was a great trail to learn how to backpack. Truly a challenge. Loved every minute of it.

Good trail to walk your pups and get some energy out

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.

29 days ago

Awesome place to hike and camp along the way! We went with a hammock and had a blast!

mountain biking
30 days ago


Excellent trail - perfect for winter and late fall.

Very easy trail. Gradual incline throughout trail but nothing crazy. So neat to see the mines. Definitely a repeat trip.

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

Tough hike but it's definitely worth it once you make it to the top

We did this trail with a group of 15 in early February on a sunny cool day. We loved that it provides access to all the different vistas of the Canyon, low lying riverbed crossings, as well as a 360 degree view from top of the ridge. There is some shade in some sections. In summer this trail will get very hot. There are many river crossings. The group included kids as young as 6. The ascent and descent on top of the Haynes ridge is somewhat washed out and the trail can have loose gravel, loose stones, and very slippery and steep sections. We had a great hike and loved this trail!

Great trail. Extremely strenuous but totally worth it when you make it to the top. We completed it in 5 hours.

Great hike. Not too hard, just longer than I’m used to. Look for the giant metal grate. That’s one of them, with the other one south of it. You could get by with your phone light, but I would recommend bringing a decent flashlight.

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