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McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail

A short hike highlighting local wildlife, plants, and geology.

Hiking Moderate

1.6 km
67 m
67 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
1.6 km
McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail Map

Paired with the Pinery Trail and Indian Meadow Nature Trail, the McKittrick Canyon Nature Trail is one of the classic short hikes in the Guadalupe Mountains. The trail is less than one mile and rated as moderate since it is not entirely flat. On average, most hikers can complete the loop in less than one hour.


If you're new to hiking in the desert, this is an excellent option as "trailside exhibits describe common plants, and reference wildland fire." From the highest point on the trek, you will also have an excellent vantage point to look down into the canyon, as an adjacent trailside kiosk highlights the Permian Reef geology - also seen here. Portions of this hike also offer more shade than sun, which allows significant diversity in plant life depending on which side of the slope you are on.

For anyone seeking a longer adventure in the backcountry, two other classic hikes depart from this trailhead: Permian Reef and McKittrick Canyon. Those planning a longer adventure may find it useful to warm up on the Nature Trail to make sure they have all of their gear dialed before heading further into the backcountry.




Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area