After spending a full day exploring West Texas, we were ready for some outdoor time in Big Bend National Park. As you can imagine, Big Bend requires a TON of driving, so we were in search of a good hike to get some fresh air and snap a few photographs from up above.
Sunset is my favorite time of day, and while I was exploring Big Bend, I knew I had to find a good viewpoint to watch it. After a bit of research, I read that the Lost Mine Trail was one of the most picturesque hikes in the park, and at just under 5 miles round trip, we’d have just enough time to hike up to the top before the sun began to set. Not knowing much else about it, we decided to give it a go.
- Length: 4.6 miles (7.4 km) round trip
- Time: 2-2.5 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Climbing/scrambling required? No
What to Bring
Before we left our campsite, we packed a few big bottles of water, hats, and some snacks. I was deciding between wearing Chacos and hiking boots for the hike, and I ultimately chose the boots (which were the right decision). Big Bend is extremely dry, so it’s important to carry more than enough water to last for the duration of your hike. We also slathered on some sunscreen before we left.
Getting to Lost Mine Trail
Head towards the Chisos Basin Lodge and Campsite. There’s only one road to get there. When you’ve entered the basin, look for signs and a few small parking spaces that indicate the Lost Mine trail entrance. You’ll find the trailhead directly in front of the parking area.
Upon reaching the trailhead, we knew it would be a very hot and dry hike. Making our way on the trail, we wandered uphill through wooded areas. We spent a good amount of time on the hour-long ascent hiding under our hats to protect us from the sun’s bright rays. The higher up we went, the more we could see of the stark rock formations and the steep valley below. Perhaps one of the best things about the Lost Mine trail is that it offers views into all sides of the basin and out towards the plains.
As expected, the hike was dry, dry, dry. The ascent took a lot out of us because we were a) dehydrated and b) extremely hot. The trail winded through short trees and other desert shrubbery. Birds circled overhead looking for prey, and the sun began to turn a little more golden by the minute. We were on the lookout for other wildlife, such as spiders and rattlesnakes, but luckily didn’t run into any dangerous critters.
The switchbacks began to sharpen and become more frequent as we started to get more spectacular views of the park. At this point, I wasn’t surprised that this was rated over and over again as one of the top hikes in Big Bend National Park. As we reached the top, the trees became a bit more sparse and dusty trails gave way to steep cliffs and open skies.
Once the vegetation cleared, we thought we’d reached the end. However, much to our delight, there was a bit more to explore. Continuing ahead away from the setting sun, we came to a beautiful rock formation that overlooked the west side of the park. We stared in awe at how stunning the views were. I’d describe them to you, but I’ll let them speak for themselves.
The Bottom Line
If you’re going to hike any trail in Big Bend, this is the best one to tackle. It’s a decent length but isn’t too long, offers incredible 360 degree panoramas of the park, and boasts an amazing sunset viewpoint. What more could you ask for in a day hike? Despite not knowing much about this hike to begin with, we certainly weren’t disappointed – of all the times we did in Big Bend, this was our absolute favorite.
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