by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved
Day Hiking Guide
If you have... One hour The Pinery Nature Trail Manzanita Springs and/or Smith Springs Trail McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail Indian Meadow Nature Loop (at Dog Canyon) Two - Three hours Smith Springs Trail McKittrick Canyon (to Pratt Cabin) Devil’s Hall Trail Four hours McKittrick Canyon (to the Grotto) Marcus Overlook (at Dog Canyon) One Day Guadalupe Peak Trail The Bowl Trail Permian Reef Trail El Capitan Trail Foothills/Frijole Trail Lost Peak (at Dog Canyon) Pine Springs Visitor Center Trailhead The Pinery Trail 3/4 mile round trip Easy, wheelchair-accessible Discover the desert as you walk from the Visitor Center to the ruins of the Pinery, a Butterfield Trail stagecoach station. The Pinery Trail ends at the Pinery parking area on Hwy 62/180. Modest incline on return trip. Pine Springs Trailhead Guadalupe Peak 8.4 miles round trip Strenuous, 6-8 hours The Bowl 8.5 miles round trip Strenuous, 6-8 hours Devil’s Hall 4.2 miles round trip Moderate, 2.5-3 hours On clear days, the views from the “Top of Texas” (8,749’, 2,667m) are outstanding. the trail is well established and does not require rock-climbing abilities. Avoid the peak during high winds and thunderstorms. Take a high country hike through a coniferous forest, and see how the area is recovering from a wildland fire that occurred in 1990. Recommended route: Tejas Trail, Bowl Trail, Hunter Peak side trip, Bear Canyon Trail, Frijole Trail. After following one mile of constructed trail, turn left and follow the route through the wash. Extremely rocky. Continue for one mile to the Hiker’s Staircase and Devil’s Hall. Do not scramble up slopes or go into caves or shelters. Rocks may be unstable due to flooding that occurred in September, 2013. El Capitan 11.3 mile round trip Moderate to strenuous, 6-8 hours Frijole & Foothills Trails 5.5 miles round trip Moderate, 3-4 hours This trail leads through Chihuahuan Desert to the base of El Capitan at the southern end of the Guadalupe Mountain range. Recommended route: El Capitan Trail, Salt Basin Overlook, and back. The Frijole and Foothills trail make a loop connecting the Pine Springs Campground and the Frijole Ranch. Start at either end. Frijole Ranch Trailhead Smith Spring Trail 2.3 miles round trip Moderate, 1-2 hours Wheel-chair accessible to Manzanita Spring (0.4 miles round-trip). The trail then becomes rocky and is rated moderate. Look for birds, deer, and elk on your way to the shady oasis of Smith Spring. Dog Canyon Trailhead McKittrick Canyon Trailhead National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Guadalupe Mountains National Park Day Hikes Indian Meadow Nature Trail 0.6 miles round-trip Easy Discover the plants and animals of a meadow in the secluded north section of the park. Lost Peak 6.4 miles round-trip Strenuos, 1,500 feet of elevation gain Climb out of Dog Canyon on the Tejas Trail to visit the coniferous forest above. Outstanding views from Lost Peak. There is no trail the last 1/4 mile to the peak. Marcus Overlook 4.5 miles round-trip Moderate, 800 feet of elevation gain Follow the Bush Mountain Trail for 2.3 miles to the ridge top for a view into West Dog Canyon. McKittrick Canyon to Pratt Cabin 4.8 miles round-trip Moderate, 2-3 hours to the Grotto and Hunter Line Cabin 6.8 miles round-trip Moderate, 4-5 hours Follow an intermittent stream through the desert, transition, and canyon woodlands to the historic Pratt Cabin, Grotto Picnic Area, and Hunter Line Cabin. A guidebook is available at the trailhead visitor center. McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail 0.9 miles round-trip Moderate, <1 hour Stroll through the foothills and learn about the natural history of the Chihuahuan Desert. Trailside exhibits. Permian Reef Trail 8.4 miles round-trip Strenuous, 2,000 feet of elevation gain. For serious geology buffs, this trail has stop markers that can be used with a geology guide book available at park visitor centers. There are excellent views into McKittrick Canyon from the top of this ancient Permian structure. Salt Basin Dunes Trailhead Salt Basin Dunes Trail 3-4 miles round-trip Moderate, some of the largest dunes are 60’ high and involve some scrambling Hike to a gypsum dune field with excellent views of the western escarpment. There is no shade, so carry plenty of water and avoid hiking in the midday heat. Visit Safely Bring food and plenty of water. Wear sunscreen and a hat. Carry a trail map. Pack rain gear; sudden weather changes are common. Protect the Park Stay on trails; don’t cut across switchbacks or create new trails. Carry out all trash, including cigarette butts. Report any trail hazards to the Visitor Center.