0
12 In Hiking + The Outdoors/ Texas/ Travel

The Mountains of Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is an underrated national park, in my opinion. It wasn’t even in the top 40 most visited U.S. national parks in 2015, but it quickly made its way into my top ten! I hope I can share some of that love with you over a series of four posts about my experiences in & across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park starting with the mountains in Big Bend.

IMG_9425

The drive into Big Bend follows a winding road through the dessert filled with beautiful mountains. I love the sensation of following rolling hills and getting totally caught up saying, ‘Wow!’ every fifty feet or so. I can’t say thank you enough to Theodor Roosevelt for these amazing gifts.

IMG_9442

Even the views just driving through the park were spectacular, but wait until you see what we got ourselves into on the trails!

IMG_1097

⋙ A Few Things to Know About Hiking in the Mountains of Big Bend:

» Big Bend is home to black bears & mountain lions. Be aware of what precautions to take when hiking in these areas. As of now there has never been a reported bear attack in Big Bend, but they will come looking for food so be sure to keep food and other scented items in bear boxes if hiking in the backcountry and know about bear safety. Mountain lion attacks in Big Bend are extremely rare, I only found two instances, but NPS recommends hiking in numbers (especially around dawn and dusk) and keep a very close eye on small children. Ask your park rangers for any other tips.

» Dress in layers in the mountains – it’s amazing how quickly the temperature can drop. Also, be mindful of crazy gusts of wind at the top, you don’t want to lose your hat!

» Obviously, pack plenty of water for your hikes & don’t forget your sunscreen.

IMG_1098 IMG_1105 IMG_9460 IMG_9467 IMG_9472

⋙ Cattail Falls

This trail isn’t one that actually appears on the map. A ranger told us about the trail and gave us directions and the hike here was really beautiful. We were in Big Bend during a time of drought, so the water wasn’t flowing, but the pool was there. It was still a marvelous hike though.

» Getting There:

This trail isn’t marked on the provided NPS map, but it’s on an unmarked, dirt road just down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive near Sam Neil Ranch, but on the opposite side (which is on the NPS map). The park ranger recommended a high clearance vehicle, but 4wheel drive isn’t necessary. Take the unmarked road just over a mile to the trailhead parking area. From the parking area you follow the road beyond the gate about half a mile to the trailhead. From the trail head it’s 1.5 miles to Cattail falls.

IMG_9583 IMG_9584

This massive tree with branches that reach to the ground is at the Cattail Falls trailhead.

IMG_9587 IMG_9608

Expectation vs. Reality – to see it rushing you have to catch it after a hard rain. Regardless of the low flow, it was still a stunning hike. Be sure to stay on the trail at the waterfall and don’t swim in the pools. The NPS actually took this hike off the map because of the fragility of the ecosystem there. Leave only footprints.

IMG_9593 IMG_9613

⋙ Lost Mine Trail

Lost mine trail is one of the most popular trails in Big Bend and although it isn’t an easy hike we saw people of all ages making their way the top. This trail climbs about 1,000 feet in elevation & is 2.4 miles each way to the summit.

» Getting There:

This trailhead is just off the Chisos Basin Road. There’s a pull-off on the side of the road with a decent amount of parking space. From there it’s just the almost 5 miles roundtrip there and back.

IMG_9615

I’m a mountain lover through & through.

IMG_9616 IMG_9618 IMG_9628 IMG_9658

My dad and me jumping for joy at the summit.

IMG_9661 IMG_9675

The extraordinary view from the Lost Mine Summit

IMG_9677 IMG_9678 IMG_9679 IMG_9682 IMG_9686

This was my favorite view from the trail – the road down to the Chisos Lodge surrounded by some stunning mountain views.

⋙ Just For Fun: Treat Yourself to a Beer

Inside the Chisos Lodge (just down the road from the Lost Mine Trail) is a perfect place for a nice lunch, or do what I did and treat yourself to a craft beer. You’ve been hiking all day, you deserve it. They carry a couple different beers from Big Bend Brewing Co. just up the road in Alpine, Texas. I had the La Frontera IPA and it was so delicious that I brought home a 6-pack for Matt and me to enjoy back home.

IMG_1225

Can you beat a beer with this view?

IMG_1245

The sunset / moonrise over the mountains just outside the park was just another striking mountain-scene in the Big Bend area. Mountain experiences can range from a day hike to backcountry camping, from a drive through the mountains to a beer overlooking them. The important thing is to take time to experience the joy that the mountains bring and make the most of your moments there.

Did you like this article? PIN IT!

Big Bend National Park-2

Come along on my adventures by subscribing to my blog. Simply enter your email and get updates on new locations and experiences. [Subscribe below this post or to the right.]

You Might Also Like

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Meghan
    March 21, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Awesome photos, Paige! Can’t wait to see the other posts You and your dad look like you really enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    The Desert of Big Bend National Park - For the Love of Wanderlust
    March 22, 2016 at 9:08 am

    […] spend some time in each of the sections because each has its own beauty. Take the time to enjoy the mountain peaks, the little details like the succulents & Native American artifacts of the desert and the […]

  • Reply
    Happy 100th Birthday to the National Park Service - For the Love of Wanderlust
    April 19, 2016 at 8:25 am

    […] of this park, I feel like we saw some really incredible sites. My favorite hikes from each are Lost Mine Trail [mountains – pictured above], Chimeys Trail [desert] & Hot Spring Canyon Trail [river]. […]

  • Reply
    thetravelpockets
    May 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

    I wasn’t sure where Big Bend National Park was and had to google it 🙂 Great tips about dressing in layers and to travel in groups for the rare occasion of running into mountain lions. The photos are beautiful and I hope to visit this park some day. A heads up that there was one photo that was not showing up on my end IMG_9618.

  • Reply
    carla
    May 18, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I would love to travel with Dad too but he’s too old for mountain hikes now. Nice photos too!

  • Reply
    Jo
    May 18, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Oh wow what amazing views. I am sure it was quite a wonderful hike. I know what you mean about underrated parks. On my recent trip to South Africa I choose Zululand over Kruger and LOVED it. So def underrated places can surprise you at times 🙂

  • Reply
    Marteen
    May 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    It’s nice to read about a lesser known national park in America. Everyone knows of Yosemite and Yellowstone and while there important it’s good to give coverage to others. You captured some stunning photographs and it was so cool to experience the trip with your dad 🙂

  • Reply
    Live Learn Venture
    May 18, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I’ll tell you what — visiting National Parks is a big thing on my list for 2017. There are so many gorgeous parks in the US and I have been missing out! I loved this post — gorgeous views!

  • Reply
    Chantell
    May 18, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    So happy to see this! My boyfriend and I went to Big Bend earlier this year but ended up leaving after a bad storm rolled in and we had issues with our car that had to be sorted out. Looks like you had an amazing time! I would totally recommend a visit to this national park. Pinning it!

  • Reply
    Jojo
    May 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    You and your dad are adorable! I try to get my parents to come with my but they refuse. I can’t even get them to go biking in the city with me anymore =(

    I’ve never heard of this park but would like to check it out for myself when I get the chance. When you described it as “wow ever fifty feet” is what got me because I can recall when I had those moments and how I loved that feeling.

  • Reply
    nycgingeronthego
    May 19, 2016 at 8:28 am

    That’s so cool the ranger set you up on the secret hike to Cattail Falls. It would have been amazing to see it in action. And I cannot believe you still went despite bear and lion warnings!!!!!!! Bravo to you. Haha I am a chicken.

  • Reply
    Bailey K.
    May 19, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    I’m from Texas so I grew up going to Big Bend. And I agree, it IS underrated! I think it’s not one of the more visited national parks because it’s so far away from everything, though, unlike Great Smokey Mountains, Yosemite, etc. 🙂 I love hiking the Chisos mountains the best. Did you get to go to the south rim?

  • Join the Conversation!

    %d bloggers like this: