Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located on US Hwys 180/62 in West Texas along the Texas-New Mexico state line. The Park includes much of the Guadalupe Mountain range, which was once a reef at the edge of a shallow Permian sea. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a hikers park, with some 80 miles of trails. Day hikes will take you through different climate zones, from a Chihuahuan desert environment to high country forests. The pictures presented here are from trips to the park in 1989, 1992, and 1998.
Frijole Ranch was started about 1876 by the Rader Brothers, who left in the late 1880's. The Smith Family occupied the ranch from 1906 to 1942, adding the bunkhouse and schoolhouse. The Smiths sold the ranch to Judge Jesse Hunter. Hunter's son inherited the ranch and sold it to the National Park Service in 1966. Today the ranch complex is known as the Frijole Ranch Cultural Museum. It includes the restored ranch house, bunkhouse, barn, a double outhouse, springhouse, shed, and schoolhouse.
Smith Spring Trail
Smith Spring Trail is a moderate, 2.3 mile loop trail. The trailhead is at Frijole Ranch. Most of the trail traverses desert until it reaches a little oasis at Smith Spring.
Devil's Hall Trail
Devil's Hall Trail is a moderate, 4 mile out and back trail starting at Pine Springs Campgroud. This rocky trail initially crosses desert terrain, then follows the streambed in Pine Springs Canyon. Fianlly it climbs the Hiker's Staircase to the Devil's Hall (very little elevation gain).
The hike to Guadalupe Peak is a difficult 8 mile out and back trip. A 3,000 ft elevation gain make this a strenuous hike. That said, the trek is well worth it as the views from the summit are fantastic. The trailhead is located at the Pine Springs Campground. Guadalupe Peak, at an elevation of 8,751 feet, is the tallest point in Texas.
McKitrick Canyon Trail
The McKitrick Canyon Trail begins at the parking lot of the McKitrick Canyon Visitor Center (which may or may not be manned) and ends in the high country at the junction with Tejas Trail. The trail quickly passes out of the desert and into the canyon, following an intermittent stream most of the way. After 2.5 miles the trail reaches Pratt Lodge, the former home of Wallace Pratt who owned much of McKitrick Canyon back in the day. The grotto is about a mile past Pratt Lodge, and is a good stopping point for a day hike. From the Grotto the trail climbs steeply out of the canyon into the back country to join with the Tejas Trail.
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