Park Guide: Guadalupe Mountain National Park
Distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation gain: 2,867ft
Time: 5-6 hours
Following the Guadalupe Peak trail will guide you to the peak with the highest elevation in Texas – Guadalupe Peak. Standing at 8,751ft in elevation, the views from the top are breathtaking beyond belief. The elevation gain is most steep nearest the summit with most of the trail having a gradual incline through a series of switchbacks throughout the hike. Just after you cross a wooden bridge, before the last section of switchbacks near the peak, the trail branches off to the left and offers a nice rest stop to catch your breath and take in the sweeping desert landscape. This trail is the most popular in the park, so it is advised to start early to avoid trekking behind a line of people to reach the summit.
Hunter Peak via Tejas trail to Juniper trail to Bowl trail
Distance: 12.5 miles (loop)
Elevation gain: 3,293ft
Time: 7-8 hours
This hike offers a variety of views and landscapes, each more beautiful than the last. Much of the elevation gain happens in the first 3.5 miles as you ascend up Tejas trail. This portion of the trail is primarily made up of many switchbacks as you creep up the mountain. Once you reach the top the trail branches into three directions. Head straight to follow the Juniper trail into the deep forest or go left or right to follow the bowl trail. The Juniper trail will lead you deep into the forests nestled in the mountains and is truly breathtaking. The wind sweeps through the trees and the sunlight breaks through the branches to create a euphoric atmosphere. After 1.9 miles Juniper trail will connect back with Bowl trail which you will follow for 0.9 miles until you reach the trail that will diverge off to Hunter Peak. This trail is fairly shot and will immediately lead you to the peak. Hunter peak is a mere 341ft shorter in elevation than Guadalupe peak and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the mountains on the opposite side of the riverbed (including Guadalupe Peak).
For a shorter hike to Hunter peak, take the Tejas trail directly to Bowl trail for a total of 7.8 miles with 2,657ft elevation gain.
Devil’s Hall Trail
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: 577ft
Time: 2-3 hours
This trail is one of the shortest nearest the Pine Springs campsite and offers opportunities for fun rock climbing. Along the way you can spot some interestingly grown trees, plants, and at the end of the trail you will come across a stair-like rock formation in the wall. You can choose to scramble up these rocks or turn back around and head back to the campground. This trail is great for a short sunset hike; scramble atop a nice rock and take in the stunning Texas sunset like never before.
El Capitan Trail
Distance: 9.6 miles
Elevation gain: 1,689ft
Time: 4-5 hours
This trail will lead you around the base of El Capitan and continues on to Williams Ranch, the end of the El Capitan trail; from here you turn around and head back. This trail offers breathtaking views of the mountain and the never-ending desert landscape that stretches on past the horizon. The trail does not actually summit the peak, but I have seen people successfully summit the peak. Whether or not you choose to summit the peak or hike beneath it, the grandiosity of the peak is a sight to be admired.
Other mentionable hikes I was not able to complete during the few days in which I visited, but definitely will be back to experience include:
- McKittrick Canyon Trail
- Permian Reed Trail
- Bush Mountain
- Lost Peak
For more information on trails and the trail conditions for your visit, the National Park Service website is a great resource as well as the AllTrails app.
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