Return to Guadalupe Peak Trail

Top Of Texas
User: Lone_Star - 10/9/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 8.50 Miles Duration: 7 hours, 23 minutes

I ascended Guadalupe Peak (for a 2nd time) with my girlfriend.  We got a late (2:15pm) start and my GF didn't have a lot of hiking experience, especially with mountains, so I carried a full pack with provisions in the event we had to camp overnight.  So we took our time and enjoyed the journey.  The weather was AWESOME! - blue skies, little/no wind, and sunshine.  It was a magical moment at the summit as the sun was starting to set.  We decided not to camp overnight so we did most of the descent slowly in the dark with our headlamps.  It was one of the best hikes I've ever done, especially since I was in good company.

Standing On The Top Of Texas
User: Lone_Star - 5/21/2013  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4point5stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 8.70 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 3 minutes

After year of wanting to climb Guadalupe Peak, I finally made it happen!  For me, this was an item on my Bucket List.  Doing this trail was a major accomplishment on my list.

My original plan was to climb the peak, descend, ascend Hunter's Peak via the Tejas Trail, camp at Pine Top and spend 4 days backpacking and camping in the backcountry.  Consequently, I ascended Guadalupe Peak fully packed out with a 35 lb load.  Needless to say, my overly ambitious plan didn't happen, lol.  The old adage, "ounces lead to pounds and pounds lead to pain", became very true and something I experienced first hand and forced me to change my plans.

Climbing Guadalupe Peak took a lot of effort and reminded me of my painful slog up Pike's Peak in Colorado back in 2008, only in much hotter conditions and a lot less shade.  Fortunately, my trekking poles helped immensely by converting me from an overconfident biped into a humbled, laboring quadruped.  By the time I descended Guadalupe Peak, I was spent.  My legs were shaking uncontrollably and I was forced to change my plans by camping down below at Pine Springs campground.  Actually, camping isn't the right word.  It was more like going into shock and passing out from overexertion in my tent at Pine Springs campground, lol.

The trail is easy to follow and a series of switchbacks that seemingly never end.  The terrain changes along the way from desert vegetation to pines.  There are no distance markers along the way and the "brochure map" they provide you at the Visitor's Center is lacking.  It does not have many topographical features and trail distances are not indicated on the map (although some of the popular routes and distances are described in verbiage in the brochure).  A very good topographical map made by National Geographic is available for purchase in the Visitor's Center for $20.  It is costly, but I still recommend you get one if you're going to hike the less frequented trails in the backcountry.  This is wild, rugged, remote country which demands a good map!

Along the way up and down the trail, you are afforded spectacular views of the adjacent canyons, mountains and surrounding area below.  You will pass the cutoff to the Guadalupe campground about 4/5th of the way up.  If you plan to camp here, you must first obtain a backcountry permit from the Visitor's Center.  It is free and it helps the rangers know where everyone is.

The view from the top is incredible and extremely rewarding.  On a clear day, you can see 40-50 miles.  Knowing that you are standing at the highest point in the great state of Texas is a cool feeling, too.  Be sure to sign the register!  It can be found in an old ammo container next to the pyramid monument at the summit.

A word about weather.  Be advised that weather can change very quickly and winds can gust at high speeds.  I talked to one guy that camped overnight at Guadalupe campground and he told me the winds were gusting around 30 mph at night.  Rangers later told me that sometimes the wind can gust 60-70 mph or more.  Lightning, rain, hail and snow are all possible.

So, if you're camping, be sure to stake your tent down tautly and bring long, solid tent stakes that can penetrate hard, rocky soil.  If you bring small, aluminum stakes or thin, shepherd's hook stakes, they will either break or bend miserably when attempting to drive them into the ground.

If you're hiking during high winds, be very careful as the trail is narrow in spots with steep drop-offs of several hundred feet.  If you're carrying a heavy pack, the change in your center of gravity can throw your balance off.  If you slip or faint, it could easily lead to serious injury or death.

Warning:  Climbing the peak is harder that it looks!  Even if you make it, the descent is hard, too.  Do not attempt this trail if you have health issues or are not in shape.  You will put yourself and rescuers in harm's way.  People get into trouble all the time in this park.  Also, be sure to take a lot of water.  You will need more than you realize, especially during the hotter months.  The park recommends you take 1 gallon per person per day (Note:  If you hike long distances, you will need even more).  Some people attempt to ascend the peak woefully unprepared.  Do not be one of them.

User: Rowdius - 3/19/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 3point5stars Solitude: 1star
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A
User: ALP - 3/12/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 5stars Solitude: 2point5stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Tough Hike, but enjoyable
User: rowdy - 6/28/2008  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 10.30 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 30 minutes

This hike will give you a workout.  This being the first time we had hiked it we really didn't know what to expect.  Not being able to see the peak until later in the hike was sometimes frustrating.  You would think you were almost there and go around the bend to see you had further to go than you thought.  The weather was great for the day.  It would get pretty hot and then a cloud would come over or a cool breeze would cool you down.  There were a few other hikers but not too many.  Overall it was a great challenge.  The trails were well marked and the views were spectacular.  I would recommend this trail to an experienced hiker but not to the novice.  The monument at the top was a great place to have lunch.

User: wardbd1 - 10/19/2007  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: 6 hours
User: kernel - 6/14/2007  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: 4 minutes

Beautiful country. Quite a few people on the trail but still very peaceful.

On Top of Texas
User: LVX - 12/28/2005  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A
We went out just after Christmas (2005). We had never been there before so we really didn't know what to expect. We were really lucky, it was a perfect day. This hike is fairly strenuous but worth the effort.
Incredible Hike!
User: DebnJohn - 10/17/2005  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 4point5stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 8.40 Miles Duration: N/A
What an exhilarating hike! We hiked up on a warm mid-80s(at bottom) Friday, August 12th. Left base at ~10:30am and was perspiring most of the way up. Boy is this trail steep. Steeper than the Basin hikes at Big Bend. ~3 hrs up, and ~ 2 hrs down. Stopped close to the campground on the way up and had a wonderful picnic lunch at an area of incredible scenery. Was a bit cooler up here, but still warm enough to take off my shirt and let it dry. There were thunderclouds around us in the Guadalupe area, and even had a thunder scare up towards the peak, but no way were we going to go back down now. Thankfully the thunderstorm proceded northeast away from the peak after developing across the canyon in the bowl area. The ladybugs up at the top were incredible and so dense on the bushes. Had a nice rest at the top and took plenty of pictures. We did have a brief sprinkle on the way back down when we were within sight of the parking area. We were thankful to have ponchos with us. We would love to go back out there next year and try the bowl loop hike and maybe McKittrick Canyon.
Must Hike!
User: adrianrsus - 8/12/2005  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 4point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 8.40 Miles Duration: N/A
This is the ablolute best hike in Texas. If you live in Texas and hike, you must visit The Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This hike has it all. The trail is well established, the scenery is great, and the view from "the top of Texas" is unbeatable. Plus once you get to the tree line, it gets much cooler. There are several other hikes in the park but this one is a must.
Signed the Book!
User: Eveline - 10/10/2004  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 5stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 9.20 Miles Duration: N/A
It took us 7 hours to climb to the top and back down. Amazing trail. So glad I had the opportunity to climb the tallest peak in Texas! We started at Pine Springs 5822' and climbed to 8749'.
The Top of Texas
User: oceanus - 6/27/2004  [View Log Page]
Rating: N/A Difficulty: 5stars Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 8.40 Miles Duration: N/A
This was my second time hiking the Guadalupe Peak Trail. I thought that maybe this time around the hike would seem easier, but I was wrong; it is definitely one of the hardest hikes in Texas. There were many more people on the trail this time, though most were near the beginning of the trail. As can be expected, the views from the top are stunning; the world just seems to drop away from the mountaintop to the desert below. As for the temperature, it's hot at the beginning, but becomes very pleasant by the time you reach the first trees. I would suggest a very early start. We began at 8:30 and didn't finish until 4:15, though we took many breaks and sat on the peak for about an hour. Enjoy!
One of my favorite hikes in Texas!
User: texas trekker - 12/18/2003  [View Log Page]
Rating: N/A Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 1point5stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A
My second climb of this highpoint of Texas! My first time was alone, this time climbed with my two sons. We had a great day, cool and clear! Fantastic views from the top!
On the High End of Texas!
User: oceanus - 8/2/2003  [View Log Page]
Rating: N/A Difficulty: 4point5stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Inspired by a chapter titled "On the High End of Texas," from Edward Abbey's book "Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside," I set out for this remote location. The trail begins near the Pine Springs campground, and is 4.5 miles one way. Though the length isn't that long, nevertheless, it's a strenuous hike. The elevation gain from Pine Springs is 3003 feet, which is accompanied with an immense amount of switchbacks. The first part of the hike is in the foothills of the Guadalupes, which allows you to take in the ecosystem of the Chihuahuan Desert. There are all kinds of xerophytic plants including yuccas, agaves, sotols, creosote, lechugilla and more. The vegetation changes as you head into the higher elevations of the mountains and, as Old Cactus Ed said, you begin to smell the aroma of pine. You'll find PiƱon Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Oaks, Juniper, Texas Madrona, Arizona Cypress, maples, and more. The trail is easy to follow and well shaded once you get up the mountain a bit. There is one bridge which skirts a ledge when approaching the top, but other than that, it's all natural. About a mile or so from the top is the Guadalupe Peak Backcountry Campground. It sits in an open area which is exposed to the wind; there's nothing there, only a couple of logs and rocks to sit on. Continuing on, you reach the summit. It's a large area with a silver marker signifying the point of highest elevation. Unfortunately, it says something like "The Butterfield Stagecoach and American Airlines pioneering new horizons," or some similar ad slogan. That was disappointing, going all that way to get away from the grind and seeing a marketing ploy on top of the mountain. However, look away from the marker and you'll find astonishing 360 degree views. To the north, the rugged Guadalupes; to the east, desert as far as the eye can see; to the west, the salt flats (playa lakes,) which Spaniards and Anglos battled for long ago; and to the south, a view of the top of El Capitan, 800 feet below. As for wildlife, I saw a Peregrine Falcon, Mule Deer, a snake, lizards, a tarantula, a Ring-tailed Cat, and on a Madrona right on the trail, fresh claw marks (mountain lion?). Start early and take plenty of food and water. Also, I would suggest staying at the Pine Springs campground at least one night to acclimate to the higher elevation. The park is in the middle of nowhere, which makes it all the more exciting. The views are stunning and, on the trail, solitude is guaranteed. Plus, as far as hiking in Texas goes, you can't get any higher.