Big Bend Hikes: Pine Canyon Trail

Trail heading towards the canyon

Thanksgiving Day in Big Bend National Park started off crisp and clear, eventually warming up in time for a nice mid-day hike into Pine Canyon.

The Pine Canyon Trail starts at the end of Pine Canyon Road and is reached via 6 miles of rough, rocky dirt road travel. While high-clearance 4×4 vehicles are recommended, it is possible for higher-clearance all-wheel drive SUV’s to make the cut – just drive slow!! Those wishing to take the extra effort to reach the trailhead are rewarded with a nice 4-mile roundtrip hike through diverse vegetation on a lesser trafficked trail.

The route starts at the end of the small parking lot that defines the terminus of the road. For the first 1.5 miles, hikers are traversing through a lush desert environment characterized by sotol, beargrass, juniper and pinyon pine. As the trail enters the canyon, the vegetation changes drastically and the trail begins a steep ascent to the Pine Canyon pour-off where it ends at a seasonal waterfall. Plants found in the canyon include several varieties of oak, big tooth maple, pinyon pine, madrone and Arizona pine. The deciduous trees were exhibiting some nice fall color! I found evidence of longspur columbine plants along the trail deep in the canyon. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in bloom!!

At the pour-off, the maples were turning some brilliant yellows and oranges!
Colorful Big Tooth Maple leaves

Amazing how much cooler it was in the canyon compared to the exposed desert portion of the trail!! One of the benefits of an out-and-back trail is the alternative views you experience on the way out. Walking back to the parking area, we were rewarded with some stunning views of the limestone cliffs of the Sierra del Carmen Mountain Range in the distance.

The Sierra del Carmen cliffs in the background!

It was a great hike! Hard to believe that I would come down with Covid the very next day!! I had no symptoms on Thanksgiving Day at all. Covid hit me hard and fast Friday night and put me in bed for several days!! After 3 years of avoiding the dreaded virus, I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually contract it. I’m on the mend now and furiously washing and disinfecting everything in sight! 🙂

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