Explore top hikes in the Chisos Mountains for stunning views & wild adventures you can't miss!
Strap on your boots and fill up your water bottles; we’re about to dive into the rugged heart of West Texas. The Chisos Mountains aren’t just a backdrop for postcards—they’re a hiker’s playground, where every path leads to an awe-inspiring vista or a secretive canyon whispering tales of the old Wild West.
We’ve lined up 9 must-do hikes in the Chisos Mountains that promise to elevate your spirit and challenge your muscles. Home to Emory Peak and nestled within the sprawling vistas of Big Bend National Park, these trails are your ticket to unforgettable adventures.
Ready for an elevation sensation? Let’s hit the trails and discover why these hikes are treasures that should top every hiker’s bucket list.
South Rim Loop
This 12.6-mile loop in Big Bend National Park is a great mountain hike that leads to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains and provides a view that extends for miles across the boarder of Mexico. The hike is difficult but attainable in a day and leaves one feeling accomplished by the end of the loop.
Start at the Chisos Basin Trailhead and head south on the Pinnacles Trail. Continue on this trail until you reach the junction with the South Rim Trail. Turn left onto the South Rim Trail and follow it for about 2 miles until you reach Emerald Spring. You can continue on the South Rim Trail or take a side trail to Balanced Rock for some more incredible views.
Head back to the South Rim Trail and continue following it until you reach Window Viewpoint. Here, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of Big Bend National Park. Continue following the South Rim Trail until you reach Juniper Canyon overlook before turning around and heading back to your car.
The Chisos Mountains are home to some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the world. The Skyline Trail is one of them. This trail takes you to the top of Emory Peak, the highest point in the range.
From there, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Window Trail is a moderate, 5.6 mile round trip hike.
If you are looking for an adventure, look no further than the Skyline Trail. This hike will take you to new heights and give you memories that will last a lifetime.
Window View Trail
The Window View Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Chisos Mountains. The trailhead is located near the Basin campground and it provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valley.
The trail is about 1.5 miles long and it is an easy hike with a few moderate sections. The trail provides access to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, which is a popular destination for hikers and backpackers.
Burro Mesa Trail
The Burro Mesa Trail is a spectacular hike that leads to a stunning viewpoint of the Chisos Mountains. The trail is moderate in difficulty and is 4 miles round trip. The hike begins at the Chisos Basin Trailhead and follows a ridgeline through the forest to Burro Mesa.
Along the way, hikers will enjoy incredible views of the Sierra del Carmen mountain range and Big Bend National Park. At Burro Mesa, hikers will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Chisos Mountains.
This is an unforgettable hike that should not be missed on your next adventure in the Chisos Mountains!
Chisos Basin Loop Trail
The Chisos Basin Loop Trail is a must-do for any hiker visiting the Chisos Mountains. The trailhead is located in the heart of the Chisos Basin, and the loop takes hikers up into the surrounding mountains. The Chisos Basin Loop Trail is a 4.2 km looped trail that starts and ends in Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas.
Along the way, hikers will get stunning views of the basin below, as well as some of the most iconic peaks in the range, including Emory Peak, the highest point in Texas.
The trail is moderately challenging, with an elevation gain of around 1,500 feet. However, it is a well-maintained trail and is suitable for most fitness levels. The loop can be done in either direction, but most people prefer to hike clockwise so that they end with a descent into the basin.
The best time to hike the Chisos Basin Loop Trail is during spring or fall, when temperatures are cooler. However, it can be done year-round if you are prepared for hot weather conditions. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and start your hike early in the day to avoid getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms.
Lost Mine Trail
The Chisos Mountains are home to some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the country. Among these is the Lost Mine Trail, a moderate to strenuous 4.8-mile (roundtrip) hike that rewards adventurers with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The Lost Mine Trailhead is located just west of the Chisos Basin Visitor Center, and the trail itself winds its way up through the mountains, offering hikers a variety of different landscapes to take in. The first part of the hike takes hikers through a shady forest, before opening up into rocky meadows with incredible views.
Higher up, the trail passes by huge boulders and through grassy areas dotted with wildflowers; at its highest point, hikers are treated to sweeping views of Big Bend National Park.
While the Lost Mine Trail is certainly challenging, it’s definitely worth it for those looking for an unforgettable hiking experience in one of America’s most beautiful places.
Pine Canyon Trailhead
The Pine Canyon Trailhead, 4.8 mi trail, is located just off of Basin Road and offers a quick and easy way to access some of the most popular trails in the park.
The Pine Canyon Trailhead is also a great place to begin your exploration of the Chisos Mountains if you are new to the area.
The Pine Canyon Trailhead offers a gradual climb up into the Chisos Mountains, with expansive vistas of the surrounding desert and mountains from many points along the trail.
Along the way, hikers will come across plenty of wildlife including birds, squirrels, javelinas, and even bobcats. With its close proximity to Basin Road, this trailhead is perfect for those looking for an easy day hike in Big Bend National Park.
Juniper Canyon Trail
The Juniper Canyon Trail is a Challenging 6.2-mile descent to the desert floor along switchbacks with vast mountain & valley views.. The trail ascends 2,400 feet through pinyon pine and juniper forests before reaching Emory Peak, the tallest mountain in Big Bend National Park.
From the summit, you’ll have panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape. The Juniper Canyon Trail is a great option for those looking for a longer hike with stunning views in the Chisos Mountains.
The trailhead is located in the southeast corner of the Chisos Basin, near the entrance station and general store. There are a few basic amenities available including bathrooms and drinking water. The trail begins at the south entrance to the basin; follow signs for Juniper Canyon Trail.
The hike begins by winding upwards through pinyon pine forest and scrub country. Once you reach an elevation of over 6,000 feet, the landscape shifts to more desert-like as views of Baldy Peak, Casa Grande and Blue Creek Mountain come into view ahead of you.
As you continue climbing towards Emory Peak, you’ll pass through juniper groves before reaching a saddle known as Boot Spring which marks approximately the halfway point of this hike.
From here, Emory Peak comes into view just another switchback away and offers stunning views from its summit at over 7,800 feet. Once you’ve returned to the Chisos Basin Trailhead your total round-trip mileage will be 8.4 miles with 2,400 ft in elevation gain/loss.
Because of its length and elevation change, this trail falls in between moderate to strenuous ratings on most hiking scales. To prepare for this trail make sure to bring plenty
Panther Path is an interpretive nature trail located at the Panther Junction Visitor Center in Big Bend National Park. The 0.1-mi. the trail is planted with native flora and educational signs are posted along its path, making it an interpretive experience for visitors to learn about the area’s history and ecology.
The natural landscape of cacti, mesquite, and other desert vegetation combined with interpretive signage makes for a unique sightseeing experience that introduces visitors to the park’s special environment.
Along the trail, visitors may observe diverse wildlife species that inhabit the area including javelina, coyote, raccoon, roadrunner, mourning dove, chipmunk, and armadillo that occasionally take up residence among the desert shrubbery.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to explore evidence of prior human settlement including historic artifacts left behind by local people as well as archaeological remains and fossils left behind by prehistoric animals dating back millions of years.
WILDLIFE WHILE HIKING THROUGH THE CHISOS MOUNTAINS
Hit the trails in the Chisos Mountains and get ready for a wild encounter! This isn’t just a hiker’s paradise for its breathtaking trails and views—it’s also a live-action nature show.
Pack your binoculars because you’re likely to spot the local celebrities—the black bears—doing their thing in the higher elevations. But it’s not just about the bears; the Chisos are a who’s who of the animal kingdom. From mountain lions (don’t worry, they’re shy!) to curious javelinas, which look like wild boars but are cooler and less hairy. You might even catch a glimpse of graceful white-tailed deer or spot a bighorn sheep if you’re lucky—they’re the mountain royalty around here.
Bird lovers, you’re in for a treat! The Chisos Mountains are a birding blockbuster, with over 150 species to check off your list. The Mexican Jays are the loud locals you can’t ignore, and the Steller’s Jays? They’re the ones with the snazzy blue suits. And woodpeckers—they’re the industrious carpenters of the forest. For a bit of drama, watch the raptors like Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks—they’re the action heroes of the sky here in the Chisos.
Don’t think the excitement ends when you hit the water. The streams and lakes are like nature’s own fishbowl, teeming with rainbow and brown trout—anglers, you’ve been called out! And while gators are a rare sight, just the chance of seeing one sunning itself is pretty cool, isn’t it?
But hey, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Camping out here? You’ll be swapping stories around the fire with the nighttime critters serenading you in the background. Remember to keep your food safe—those bears have a nose for treats!
So lace up those hiking boots, and don’t forget to snap lots of pics (for the ‘Gram, of course). The Chisos Mountains are not just a hike; it’s the ultimate wildlife adventure. And who knows? You might just have a few furry or feathered followers liking your adventure too. Just remember to tread lightly and keep the wild in wildlife—these guys depend on it!
Exploring the Chisos Mountains doesn’t have to be intimidating and this guide has shown you just how beautiful, diverse and accessible the hikes in this area can be.
From choosing a guided tour for unparalleled views of the region or going it alone for your own adventure, these 9 spectacular hikes are sure to leave you breathless with their stunning vistas and rich, varied ecosystem.
With all this to offer, what more could anyone want? Hurry up and book a trip- your next big adventure awaits!