South Rim Trail Lollipop

Gain stunning views off of Big Bend's elevated South Rim.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
23 km
Ascent
933 m
Descent
933 m
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
2.3 km
Gradient
South Rim Trail Lollipop Map

The South Rim Trail is renowned as one of the most beautiful hikes in all of Texas! This stunning trail traverses along an elevated rim in the Chisos Mountains, and from the rim, you'll enjoy expansive views of the Chihuahuan desert spread out below you.

Description

There are a few different options for reaching and completing this trail. The route shown here creates an attractive 14.5-mile lollipop route that hits both the Southeast and Southwest sections of the rim. This lollipop reaches the named South Rim trails by way of the Laguna Meadows trail. You can also hike this as a loop by using the Pinnacles Trail, and if you do that, you can also add on a summit of Emory Peak—the highest mountain in Big Bend National Park. So ultimately, how long and how difficult you want to make this adventure is entirely up to you.

While it's definitely possible to complete this lollipop as a day hike, you can choose to break it up into an overnight backpacking trip by using one of the many backcountry campsites that line the trail. If you go for a longer itinerary, tackling this route over two days might be a good idea.

Note: If you plan to spend the night in the backcountry, you'll need to book your backcountry campsite in advance. Check with the NPS for campsite availability.

The trail tread itself is classic high desert singletrack, consisting of plenty of rocks, rock steps, some sandy sections, and some fairly steep climbs. This hike is mostly non-technical, but if you choose to climb up Emory, expect to encounter some substantially steeper and more technical climbing.

Many sources note that the best views from the South Rim are only accessible via a short spur trail off of the main loop. Be sure to head all the way out to the rim, because the views are absolutely exceptional!

Sources: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/south-rim-trail-hike-big-bend-national-park/ https://bigbendguide.com/inside-the-park/hikes/day-hikes/the-south-rim-trail/ https://www.theoutbound.com/theoutbound/25-must-do-hikes-in-texas

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Picturesque

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area