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

backpacking
18 days ago

Backpacked from McKittrick Canyon Day Use Area to McKittrick Ridge Campground. You can park overnight in this day use only area with a backcountry permit, which you put on the dash of your car. The trip was approximately 7.6 miles and 2800 ft elevation gain. The first 3.5 miles to The Grotto are very moderate, but consist of hiking through a substantial amount of riverbed wash. The next 4 miles are much more strenuous, especially with a pack. 1 mile past The Grotto is The Notch, which offers some great views of the canyon and would be good for a day hike. Importantly, The Notch is not marked on the trail, so you will have to keep an eye out. It is distinguished from the trail as an outcropping of rocks on either side of the trail (going up from McKittrick Day use area, about a 10 ft tall pillar on your left and a canyon wall on your right). The views of the canyon become increasingly beautiful as you hike past The Notch. We did this in the dead of summer, and it was a pretty hot day. That being said, if backpacking during this time of year, I recommend taking about 5 liters per person per day, because both my hiking partner and I drank a little more than the 1 gallon recommended per day by the park. It makes for a heavy pack, but it was better to be safe during this time of year. We hiked up in 6.5 hours and down in 4, but were moving pretty fast on the way down. The campground is marked along the trail, so you can't miss it. There are at least 10 campgrounds. We were the only ones there overnight and were visited throughout the evening and night by a small group of very curious mule deer.

This hike was really cool. The park signs say it’s 4.2 miles and it took us 3 hours to complete it. You walk through a pretty rocky river bed but it’s not very difficult, just a lot of rock climbing. We saw some deer and lots of lizards along the way. I recommend this for people who want to see the mountains but don’t actually have time/want to climb them. We really enjoyed it! They view of the mountains is great along the way and the devils hall view is great too!

Ran/walked the trail to the grotto at high noon on a 100+ day. A pause at the Pratt cabin and the at the grotto was much needed, but the dip in the cool spring on the return trip truly saved us from combusting. The change in topography and views made this one of my favorite runs ever. Can’t wait to return to explore more of the park in cooler weather.

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent trail hike for a day trip. Not so hard, but challenging. The wash was amazing. The views were great. I recommend this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice walk next to and through the dry creek bed. It is pretty rocky and you aren't always on a trail. so it can be slow going at time. The end has some great views when you are down in the canyon and the staircase at the end is fun, it is somewhat steep, so just use your hands. Not many people on the trail at all.

My friend and I are both in our 50s. We hiked this in the fall. This is a very beautiful trail but I would consider it hard. We had incredible views and saw several maples that were in the prime color of the fall season. About half of the trail was on the creek beds and we climbed countless boulders which left us quite tired and sore. The “staircase” scared us a bit-the stairs were too narrow and slippery for us to get good traction so we climbed along the ledges on the cliff by the stairs. This trail is stunning but also a bit daring. At our slow pace it took us six hours.

Beautiful trail we awesome views. Also hike the Tejas trail to look down on Devil's Hall for a truly great site.

A great short-ish jaunt. You will see parts of the park not seen from peaks of El Capitan or Guadalupe. Worth it if you have a few hours to kill. Can be done much faster than avg hike time if needed

Most beautiful place yet. did this hike along with Smith Spring last year and cant wait to return.

hiking
4 months ago

I really enjoyed this trail. It had a number of interesting views, before you get to the spectacular Devils Hall. Note: many of the rocks along the trail, particularly in the wash, are rather new rocks that afford you good traction. But be very careful getting overly confident with your foot placement, because a large number of the rocks have been there a long time and are as smooth as polished rock. This is especially true when you get to the ledge section of the river bed, before getting to the Devils Hall. There are lots of good hand holds and footholds at that section, but the rock surface has been worn smooth from all the times water has rushed down through it.

hiking
4 months ago

Kristen and I were first on the trail after gates opened at 8 am. Lots of scat. When you get to canyon the trees are amazing. Some water although looks like this may have been more in the past. Loved the Pratt cabin and the hunter cabin. Magic place.

Loved this hike. Beautiful scenery and the Grotto is a nice rest area. Be aware, after the Grotto, the hike gets tougher-not hazardous, just tough. Most of the elevation gain starts then. If you're planning on camping at the site at the top, you'll need to take water, which makes the hike a bit tougher. We went in late October. After the Notch, only saw 2 people.

hiking
5 months ago

The views along the way are good. I went around sunset and it was really nice to see the sun setting along the mountains. The last half of the trail is very Rocky and unfriendly though and easy to get lost so keep your hiking boots ready.

Great trail no services, restrooms at trailhead but very good moderate hiking trail

This trail is an amazing contrast to the trek up the mountain. I went in November and the colors were outstanding.

Great views with wild life deer and aoudad

View was breathtaking ❤️

Excellent hike. Outstanding scenery and would rate as moderate.

hiking
6 months ago

Essentially flat walking along a river bed. Wind was howling through the canyon. scenery is spectacular.

on Devil's Hall Trail

6 months ago

It’s a pretty and pretty easy hike. The second half is follow the wash and make your own path. Just before the Hall there is a amphitheater like formation. Keep going just a bit longer.

hiking
7 months ago

Great long hike. The Tejas Trail is gorgeous and the switchbacks are exposed on the mountainside. Got slightly lost: when you take the Bush Trail, you want to veer towards the Pine-something campground, if you don’t, then you’ll end up somewhere back on the Tejas Trail. You do hike four little peaks before Bush, but the incline is not intense. Great long hike.

Just beautiful and so well maintained

hiking
8 months ago

SO BEAUTIFUL, people said the trail was very over grown, they haven't been to slaughter canyon or the back end of guadalupe ridge trail, those are hard trails. This trail if you're in shape and hike an average of once every 4-6 weeks this trail is moderate and we managed to finish in 7 hours and that was with breaks and taking a lunch. So many great views and pics, if you're worried about safety we actually had some cell reception most of this hike which is unusual for this area. We saw lots of deer and we happened to have some really great over cast with slight breeze. We also saw a HUGE road runner, like probably successfully take out a jack russell if given the chance. You can't beat the views, when people were slightly unimpressed with this hike they clearly didn't spend anytime looking around or have no idea how to appreciate desert beauty.

Gorgeous red maples in the fall. First part of trail is really easy. Getting to the grotto a little more work but doable. Nice picnic spot.

hiking
8 months ago

Hard for old fat people like me but I did it. Very pretty climax

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome view, could stay all day.

hiking
10 months ago

This hike is harder than Guadalupe Peak trail and Hunter Peak trail in my opinion. The first portion, on the Tejas trail is awesome. Once you get to the top, you take the left fork which is Bush Mountain trail. At this point, you are only half way to Bush Mountain peak. From this point on, the trail becomes very rocky with lots of loose rocks. At certain points, I got lost because the trail was overgrown with vegetation and it was hard to follow. The hardest part of this section of the trail was mental as you have to crest FOUR mountain tops before reaching Bush Mountain Peak. So four ups and downs and knowing that you have to do it again going back to base camp was a little tough . Still, well worth the effort. Starting out early is highly recommended. It took me 7 hours 15 minutes before I got back to Pine Springs base camp.

A favorite for locales we make it a loop. Go into the arroyo at the start. Follow unit devil hall return by the designated trail

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Devils Hall is totally unique and I highly recommend getting there if you have the time, but I don't feel this hike would capture the essence of Guadalupe Mountains National Park if you only have one day. The trail through the wash is fun and requires a little more than just a stroll through the desert. Did this after Guadalupe Peak and enjoyed it

hiking
Monday, July 24, 2017

This is a fun out and back trail that leaves from the main trailhead at Pine Springs Campground. Half the trail is through a boulder-strewn wash where you pick your own path. The goal is a narrow canyon with outstanding and unusual rock formations. You access the canyon by climbing a beautiful natural staircase. This trail is a great half day adventure at a little over 4 miles roundtrip. Not much elevation change. Very little shade. Rough and shifting footing in the wash.

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