Explore the most popular birding trails near 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.

easy and fun trail only a few spots of exitement. mostly awesome views of BBNP!!

We did this trail in early March with my 3 little kids and it was easy and a lot of fun! Perfect for families!

hiking
2 months ago

Pine Canyon Trail head is at the end of a 6 mile primitive road. The park recommends 4X4 drive, however we made the trek in Desmond out Honda CRV without noticeable damage. The trial is a easy-moderate 4 mile in and out. The first 1.6 miles are in the sun. Beware of flies, their presence is overwhelming at times. This is where you encounter first of many ecosystems. Next the trail come to a moderately wooded area, and slowly becomes more dense. This is where we encountered two black bear cubs, and momma bear. We never made it to the waterfall due to the presence of the bears. Despite the bears, the changing of ecosystems were exhilarating. Great hike!

scenic driving
3 months ago

The road is graded gravel & we saw 3 cars coming out of it, so we took a chance. Besides some birds, we saw no other wildlife. Just the cacti. It was interesting to be among the cacti & be a part of the desert (if you can do that in a car).
After about 5 miles the road got really bad - huge washouts & potholes. A car pulling an RPOD passed us going out. We think they were actually camping back there! The campgrounds were full the night before.

A short walk in the desert. I hesitate to recommend it to families however, because there's a lot of cacti surrounding the trail. If you take your kids beware. This hike is at Dugout Wells picnic area & it's a neat place. We walked the paths in the oasis as well.

The trail is very short, but your kids will like it. The fossil display is great! Very well done.

hiking
3 months ago

Not one of my favorites, but an ok trail. Good for families. You can't get into the canyon like the Santa Elena canyon trail. Also, you have to fend off a persistent Jesus "the singing Mexican".

A ranger told my husband this was his favorite trail. Very easy to find. Just drive through the campground to site 18. park on the side of the road. I liked the small wetland you walk through & the hike around the hill was great too. Views of the Rio Grande & Mexico. Great family hike.
This was a popular place at sunset. Everyone camping there walks up the hill for a great view.

scenic driving
3 months ago

This is a great scenic road from Panther Junction. It's got lots of great hikes. A seasonal Visitor Center, a campground & store. The only crossing into Mexico in the park is here.
Saw roadrunners, coyote, rabbits & javelina!!

hiking
3 months ago

Paved & accessible, this is just a .3 loop to see the window. Has a bench & lots of information boards. Nice to see if you don't have the time or inclination to take the longer trail.

Easy trail. There's some historical buildings & some pictographs up on the side of a cliff. The hot spring is ...well not my cuppa. It had about 8 guys drinking beer in it. Just......no. Enjoyed the trail. It's good for families with small children. Just don't let them near that cesspool - oops - hot spring!
The drive there is nerve racking. The road is gravel & halfway there splits. You're driving on a narrow gravel one way road through a ravine until it comes together again. The parking lot is generous, but was full when we went on a late Sun afternoon in April.

4 months ago

More of a walk than a hike, but beautiful views particularly at sunset.

Hiked with a couple friends and we enjoyed being alongside the river.

Really well designed building at the fossil exhibit.

The road was smooth, the scenery great, and I got way too excited driving through the tunnel.

Hot/exposed at first but leads into a wooded area with lots of shade!

hiking
4 months ago

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
4 months ago

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.

This was a fun hike for the kids. Lots of big rocks to climb over. Started to get a little warm in the afternoon sun but that is to be expected

This was a great hike and our kids (6 and 9 years old) loved running through the canyon. We decided to hike up and out of the canyon at the end rather than backtrack. The rock was a little loose but we all made it up to the road without incident.

on Pine Canyon Trail

5 months ago

Lovely canyon. Green oasis in the desert. Few visitors. Bear present.

Enjoyable enough..a little too crowded for my taste, but worth enjoying the hot spring :)

hiking
5 months ago

Easy trail. Perfect for those with mobility difficulties. Location near restaurant and store make it a great pre-or post-meal walk. View at sunset unbeatable.

Loved this off-road trail. Very pretty in February.

off road driving
5 months ago

Such a blast. Easier than I expected for me and my stock Jeep Wrangler. Very scenic, beautiful trail. Only a couple of spots where actual 4wd was necessary. Look for the spot with the old grave sites on the hill! No signs but looks very historic. Overall, my favorite off-road trail at big bend.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

interesting place to see..

off road driving
5 months ago

Great scenery during the drive. Didn't stop at any sites on the way, but did stop for some amazing photos. Would definitely do again if I had more time.

Great spot to sit and soak in the Rio Grande. Cool history. Pretty sunsets.

My family hiked this trail in early February. It was great for hiking with a nine month old in the backpack and a five year old. I love how it goes along the cool Rio Grande and the cliffs that have sand dunes at the base that can be explored. Just beautiful.

There are a few sites along the path that Mexicans have crossed the river and set up sales of art pieces (bead figures, walking sticks, and this year “No Wall” koozies). My five year old enjoyed being able to see the horses and men across the river who readily waved back. A couple of road runners who seemed to be well fed by hikers let us see them for more than the usual run across the road.

We took a snack and tested by the river for a few minutes, played in the sand and the hiked back.

Great family hike.

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