Guadalupe Mountain National Park offers rich history as an abandoned stage coach route located in west Texas. In those days the area was Apache country and dangerous territory for wagonloads of settlers moving west.
The Frijole Ranchouse complex located there was constructed in 1876 and has served as a ranch, post office, ranger residence, and today houses a museum that showcases the park’s interesting history.
But for hikers, the real draw is the more than 80 miles of hiking trails winding through pinion, pine, and fir offering a varied landscape and magnificent views of El Capitan and the vast Chihuahuan desert.
Hiking Guadalupe Mountain National Park
With more than 100 miles of pristine wilderness including the tallest peaks in Texas Guadalupe Mountain National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Eighty miles of trails offer varied terrain as they wind through woodland canyons, lush riparian springs, or cut a zigzag up steep switchbacks.
The following list of trails offers a snapshot of the park’s interesting trail diversity:
Devil’s Hall Trail: The Devil’s Hall Trail begins at the Pine Springs Trailhead and is only 4.2 miles round-trip. However allow 3-5 hours to enjoy this hike, which after the first mile enters a rocky wash. From here the trail heads to a striking natural rock staircase that takes hikers to a “hallway” formed by steep canyon walls. This trail is rated moderate.
Smith Spring Loop: The Smith Spring Trail is 2.3 miles (round-trip) and begins at the Frijole Ranch Trailhead sign. This loop trail hike offers opportunities to see wildlife including birds, mule deer, and elk as the landscape changes from desert scrub to a shady oasis. Smith Spring Loop is rated moderate and will take from one to two hours.
McKittrick Canyon Trail: The McKittrick Canyon Trail runs through riparian junipers, shrubs, grasses and stream crossings to the historic Pratt Cabin or the scenic Grotto. McKittrick Canyon is a moderate hike which tracks the bottom of the canyon and begins to climb after 3 miles and eventually connects to McKittrick Ridge. This trek is rated moderate.
Hiking in the Guadalupe Mountain National Park is a great place to search for fossils, enjoy bird watching, and watch for wildlife. Many trails are also available for horseback riding, for those who bring their own horse.
For hikers, the park is an ideal location for day hiking, nature photography, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, and star gazing. It really is a hiker’s paradise.