This post is contributed by Justin Fricke of The Weekend Warrior
Texas is a wild place, and Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas is no different. Situated in the desert away from everything, Big Bend National Park has tons of things to do, whether you decide to hike in the mountains, soak in the hot springs, or watch the sun set as it puts on a light show over the desert. Choosing something to do will be tough, but one thing is for certain—if you’re up for a challenge, you need to hike up to Lost Mine Peak.
How to Get There
There are two ways into Big Bend National Park: From San Antonio you’ll come in off Highway 385, and from El Paso will bring you down Highway 118. Coming from San Antonio, turn right when you get to the Panther Junction Visitor Center and follow signs to Chisos Mountain Campground. On the left, about five miles down the road, will be a marked parking lot. Coming from El Paso, turn left onto the park’s main highway and then turn right, following signs to Chisos Mountain Campground.
When to Hike
The best times of the year to hike up to Lost Mine Peak are late fall, all winter, and early spring. The rest of the year is way too hot and miserable to hike to the peak. And anywhere in Big Bend National Park for that matter. It is a desert, after all.
Hiking to Lost Mine Peak is going to be brutal during the day. The desert sun’s going to beat you down and sap all your energy. There isn’t much shade on the trail to take cover from the sun either. An evening hike can work. A lot of the surrounding mountains will provide some shade, and the cooler air of the evening will certainly help you and your energy.
Sunrise is where it’s at! A sunrise hike up to Lost Mine Peak is just what the doctor ordered. If the moon’s out, you won’t even need a very bright headlamp because the moon will light your path most of the way. Plan to get to the trailhead about an hour and a half before sunrise. It’ll take about an hour to get to the summit, and right before the sun rises is when the real light show begins. The surrounding mountains, including Casa Grande, turn colors that are out of this world. Chances are you’ll also have the whole peak to yourself.
Guidebooks label the hike as moderate, and that’s a fair statement. The whole trail’s uphill, gaining about 500 feet per mile. The trail’s well-maintained and is easy to navigate. Ever feel like the trail’s never going to end? You don’t have to feel that way on this hike. Along the trail are 24 trail markers numbered one through 24, with number 24 at the summit. Keep an eye out for the trail markers, and you’ll know about how much farther you have to go.
After the Hike
Assuming you made the “best” decision and went for a sunrise hike, head over to Chisos Mountain Lodge. They serve great food, and the entire restaurant overlooks the Chisos Mountains.
Now if you’re hiking on a budget, you can always whip something up at the trailhead or head back to camp and whip something up.
Where to Stay
You have two options nearby: Chisos Mountain Lodge or the Chisos Mountain Campground. The Chisos Mountain Lodge is quaint and gorgeous. It’s a great place to come back to and relax after a big hike up to Lost Mine Peak, but it’s also more expensive—about 10 times more expensive than the campground.
The Chisos Mountain Campground is another great option for those on a budget. $14 per night (or $7 per night if you have a Golden Access Pass) will get you a campsite with a food locker and a picnic table. It’s right next to the trailhead and is a great place to get some shut-eye before your big hike.
Now get out there, and enjoy the views from over 7,300 feet atop the Lost Mine Peak!