12 routes · Hiking
Santa Elena Canyon Trail
A classic riverside hike in Big Bend with stunning views at the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon.
- 2.3 km
- 87 m
- 87 m
- 0-1 hrs
- Low Point
- 657 m
- High Point
- 695 m
Similar to the Boquillas Canyon Trail near the Rio Grande Village, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail offers spectacular riverside views at the mouth of a canyon. The NPS considers this short hike a "Big Bend Classic," but warns that it may be "impassible when Terlingua Creek floods. When passable, "the trail ascends on paved steps to a vista, then descends back to the water's edge," to the point that canyon's walls seamlessly transition to the water's edge.
This short hike begins at the end of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Along the drive there, you will also pass the Mule Ears Trail and Tuff Canyon Trail, two other classic hikes in Big Bend that should be considered during periods of extended rain. The hike is 1.7 miles total if you hike to the end, but the vista is just minutes from the parking lot.
If you're not up for the hike but still want a stunning view of the canyon, the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook is just minutes away and offers a commanding view of the mouth of the canyon. The large circular parking lot makes it a great option for larger vehicles or even trailers to enjoy the view.
Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.
Guidebooks in this area
4 routes · Hiking
4 Short Family-Friendly Hikes in Big Bend National Park
14 routes · Hiking
Hike the Lone Star State: Best Hikes in Texas