South Rim Loop, Big Bend TX

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

I feel the best hike in Big Bend National Park for most people is one of the South Rim Loop options. You can do those as long day hikes, but I’d recommend one night in a tent on the Rim.


Pick up your camping permit ($12 / night 2017) at the Ranger station near the Chisos Mountain Lodge. There’s a good store for last minute provisions.


The trailhead is right there. I started up the Pinnacles Trail.


Everywhere is scenic up this high. Great vistas in every direction.


A hiker showed me a photo of a bear he’d seen earlier in the morning. Cougar and bear sightings are frequent. They are confined to a small geographic area.

Cougars hunt the Carmen Mountain Whitetail. For the deer it’s either cougars in the National Park or hunters outside the Park.


Are these the Pinnacles?


Weather was good so I opted for the Emory Peak side trip. It’s the highest mountain in the Park.

Emory is dangerous. A teenager fell 450 feet to his death in 1999. Many turn back at the final scramble to the summit.

For me it was FUN getting up.


atop Emory Peak

I left a Summit Stone. Enjoyed the vistas … though it was very windy.




Down climbing is often more difficult. It is here.

Foolishly I’d not really paid any attention to my line on the way up. Several times I had to backtrack on the descent to find the safest route.

I picked up my pack on getting back to the Pinnacles Trail. Then carried on up the Boot Canyon Trail.


I’ve never seen so many Bear Boxes before. As a result, Big Bend has very few problem bears.

It was late in the day. I needed to hurry to get to the South Rim if I wanted to set up my tent in daylight.



There are standing pools of water here. You don’t want to drink from them.


I started with 3.5 litres of liquids.

Big Bend does an excellent job maintaining trails. #respect


At last light I reached the most scenic part of the trip.



Here’s the vista from the S.E. Rim.


In January it was very cold this high. And very windy. I had to cocoon in my sleeping bag to stay warm enough.


I woke early next morning. The weather forecast was for rain. I hurried down over the Laguna Meadows Trail taking only about 2 hours to complete the loop.



related – trip report – Patrick Dearen 2007

2 Replies to “South Rim Loop, Big Bend TX”

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