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Texas Backpacking?
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Dane Fliedner
(dfliedner) - F

Locale: North Texas
Texas Backpacking? on 02/28/2006 09:43:24 MST Print View

My wife has recently been pushing to move from So. California to Dallas or Austin Texas in search of more affordable housing...I am hesitant because my impression is that there really isn't any backpacking there. I may be wrong...(?) Are there any Texans out there that can give some input? Thanks!

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Yep it's there - it's the water that ain't on 02/28/2006 10:04:06 MST Print View

I'm glad you asked - I was actually thinking about starting a thread sometime soon on this very subject. There are a number of good, and some remote, areas to backpack in Texas.

Texas is not like the western states - there is very little public land. We do have a good park service, and there are several (8) "state natural areas" that offer primitive environments that generally see little traffic.

I spent this past weekend at Devil's River SNA near Del Rio, TX. It was amazing - we did not see a single person in 25 miles of hiking. The park is approximately 30,000 acres, and offers a beautiful 12-mile loop through some of the most rugged and empty canyon country I've ever seen. Hiking along those ridges and seeing horizon after horizon stretch out under the sunrise, in the morning mist, ranks as one of the most awesome things I've ever seen.

The Texas hill country (and West Texas deserts) offer some really nice hiking opportunities. My uncle goes out to the Guadalupe Mountains (a national park) regularly, and thinks it is some of the best hiking around, evemn compared to the San Juans in CO.

The biggest problem with Texas backpacking is water - in East Texas it probably isn't so much of a concern, but the remote places are remote for a reason - at my Devil's River trip this weekend, my wife and I carried 8 liters of water to our campsite, then detoured on our 15 mile dayhike to pick up about 6 more. Depending on how much you drink (and you'll drink a lot of water over 15 miles in the Texas sun), you could be carrying 10-15 pounds of water at any time. At DRSNA, over 30,000 acres, there was only one good water source, and it was 7 miles away from the primitive campsite. This is often the case, but it's not always so extreme.

All that said, I head for the Rockies every summer, and every chance I get! But for a weekend trip, there are lots of great, and unique options in Texas. The area has a beauty all its own.


Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
Texas Has Backpacking on 02/28/2006 11:22:55 MST Print View

I'm from the Dallas area and love to get on the trail.

My favorite hikes are:

The Rails-to-Trails into Caprock Canyon State Park. It is a 33-mile trek that takes you through some old railroad tunnels that are now homes for bats. Caprock Canyon SP has the State Buffalo Herd.

Palo Dura Canyon outside of Amarillo.

The "Trail Between The Lakes" in far East Texas. 22 miles of Piney Woods that goes through a woodpecker sanctuary.

I love the mountains around El Paso, but getting an overnight permit is very risky and problematic.

There are a lot of good books around on hiking Texas. Texas is big enough that it has a little bit of everything without the cold weather.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Texas Has Backpacking on 02/28/2006 11:54:44 MST Print View

This would be a good thread for the Texans who use this site. Most folks think most of Texas is a soul sucking eyesore (I'm a 7th generation native, so I can say that)because they don't know where to find the good stuff. But you can usually find a decent outing within an hour or two of home. The trouble is wearing them out.

Chris Moore
(txtwang) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Re: Texas Has Backpacking on 02/28/2006 20:26:59 MST Print View

Lost Maples State Natural Area has some decent climbs, backcountry camping, and enough mileage for a weekend.

For a longer trip hit the Lone Star Hiking Trail ( in the Sam Houston National Forest. I find the website tedius, but if you make it through you can have a nice trip on some sparcely traveled trails. I just got back from a three day trip down there.

"Green Tunnel" for sure, but theres enough variety to keep you interested. Plus you get an insite into how East Texas pine forests are "managed".

If you are in Dallas you need to be thinking Oklahoma (Ouachita) and Arkansas (Ouachita and Ozarks). Here's some pics from a recent trip to the Ozarks: (

Chris in Austin

Curtis Presson
(Obdewla_X) - F
Texas Backpacking? on 03/05/2006 17:30:32 MST Print View

Don't forget Big Bend National Park... it's
AWESOME!! Many good hikes here if you're prepared, although probably too hot in
the summer time. I did the Outer Mtn.
last year at Christmas and it was pretty cool. Then there's the Guadalupe Mtns. National Park
home to Texas' highest peak, Guadalupe Peak at 8,749 feet. Have not been there but I hear it's pretty cool too. There's also the 128 mile The Lone Star Hiking Trail and the
Ouachita & Ozark-St. Francis National Forests both of which offer some great hikes. Obviously each of these are some distance away from the major metropolitan areas but not so far it isn't worth the effort.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Dbl, treble, quad.., quint... etc posts on 03/06/2006 02:15:05 MST Print View


1. Hitting your browser's refresh button or key causes the duplicate posting to occur. I've proven this to myself. It's a long standing anomaly that maybe BPL can't fix on their end, since it hasn't been corrected yet.

2. I now go back to the either "Recent Posts" or "New Posts" to check to see if any replies to my latest post have occurred. Refreshing the Thread is what seems to cause the duplicates to occur, IIRC. It's been quite a while since I determined the cause on my end and now only occasionally make the error.

3. While you can't delete the dups, you can edit them and put just a PERIOD character (you can't have an empty post) to shorten up the Thread's dup. posts a bit.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Dbl, treble, quad.., quint... etc posts on 03/06/2006 10:58:35 MST Print View

Just cleaning up Curt's doublequintuplet of dupes. Don't mind me.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Dbl, treble, quad.., quint... etc posts on 03/06/2006 11:01:12 MST Print View

We never mind you. Your presence is always greatly appreciated. Many thanks. this task that you're doing, i.e. "cleaning up", is that in the fine print of your job contract?

Curtis Presson
(Obdewla_X) - F
Dbl, treble, quad.., quint... etc posts on 03/06/2006 21:07:58 MST Print View

My apologies for all the inadvertant, muliple posts and thanks to Ryan for cleaning it all up! Just trying my hand at some HTML and thinking I was fine tuning my format, I guess kept reposting. I'll do better next time!

William C. Egger
(bill.egger) - F

Locale: South Texas
Texas Backpacking on 03/07/2006 20:36:02 MST Print View

Lost Maples is great--it is not a large place, but it has beautiful streams and hills and will not disappoint you. Fall is the most stunning--and the most crowded. I've been there at all times of the year, and never leave with regrets. It is driving distance from my home in San Antonio, and is a world away from the city. Big Bend in the Chisos is something that you must check out--but be very careful with regard to mountain lions, as I was stalked back in January at Boot Canyon # 1 on a solo trip. Go with a friend and you will likely be just fine. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is also something you should check out--hint, start from the northeast end of the park, as going up Bear Canyon will test you mettle in ways you will always remember. I have not been to Devils River, but after reading the above post, plan to check it out soon. I did not realize is was so large. Lesser places include Hill Country State Natural Area, which is more horeseriding that backpacking, but is still a good place to go. Good luck.

Edited by bill.egger on 03/07/2006 20:40:27 MST.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Texas Backpacking on 03/07/2006 21:46:10 MST Print View

I'll chime in here (from San Antonio,also) with a plug for Pedernales Falls SP which offers some backpacking oportunities very close to Austin and San Antonio. The ever popular Enchanted Rock SP, known locally for it's granite cliffs and reasonable climbing routes, also has backpacking.

Unfortunately, for someone like Dane, who is probably used to the Sierra's, all of these nice smaller parks come in a distant third place.

The other problem is one of distance. Here in central Texas it is a long way to everywhere. It is a long days drive to get to New Mexico or down to Big Bend. Those weekend trips get to be marathons (Drive all night Friday, pack in Saturday and back out Sunday to drive all day home. Not very relaxing.)

All that said, you can find some great places for backpacking in Texas, but you have to work at it a little harder than in Calif or the Rockies. You trade grandeur for intimacy in these smaller parks.


Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Guadalupe on 05/09/2006 21:53:12 MDT Print View

We went up Guadalupe last Fall. Very beautiful very dry. I would only go October thru March. There is even a small Pine forest at about 7000 foot.

Edited by FatTexan on 05/09/2006 22:04:30 MDT.

David Erekson
(finallyME) - F

Locale: Utah desert
Texas Backpacking on 05/02/2008 13:30:09 MDT Print View

I tried bping at Enchanted Rock for 4 days. We left after three because we ran out of park. It is pretty small, but has great rock climbing, caving and other stuff.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Texas Backpacking on 05/02/2008 14:41:27 MDT Print View

I live in Houston and find a number of great Backpacking opportunities here.

Google the "4-C trail", "Lake Georgetown", "LSHT club", "Big Bend", as well as "White Mountain Wilderness" in New Mexico.

From Dallas you're only a 12 hours drive from Springer Mountain on the AT, and about 14 hours from the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico. Additionally, you're close to Backpacking in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Here's the great thing about Texas.

You can hike in Texas from October through April.

I schedule my vacation time in the mountains from May through October, like the Wind Rivers, Pecos wilderness, Glacier NP, the northern AT, Smokey Mountains, etc.

It's the best of all worlds!

Bach Melick
(hrt4me) - F
Re: Texas Has Backpacking on 02/07/2010 12:32:17 MST Print View

Thanks for those tips, we'll definitely have to try them this season.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Texas Backpacking? on 02/07/2010 13:50:17 MST Print View

One state park near Austin that's perhaps has not yet been mentioned is Pedernales State Park -- enough trails for a full hiking day or an easy backpacking weekend.

Pedernales State Park and Enchanted Rock are the closest backpacking spots I recall from living in Austin eons ago.

Big Bend is outstanding -- but it's a long day's drive from central Texas. Moved to the northwest after college for one reason: great abundance of public land that's a drive of less than an hour up to six hours from cities, like the following:

Cascades, including North Cascades National Park and many, many wilderness areas the length of Washington and Oregon.

Coastal range, including Olympic National Park and more wilderness areas, plus all the coastal rivers.

Wallowas, Blue Mountains, and Steen's Mountain in eastern Oregon (which are the longest drives from most cities).

A huge difference between Texas and the Pacific Northwest is the amount of public land -- Texas doesn't have near as much public land for backpacking convenient to cities.

But Texas has some nice locations as described by others, and also great bass fishing -- especially in East Texas.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Texas Backpacking? on 02/07/2010 14:45:27 MST Print View

I'll be hiking in the Solitario (Big Bend Ranch State Park) for the second year in a row, coming up at the end of the month. Can't wait!

Mina Loomis
(elmvine) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
Texas trips on 02/07/2010 20:02:45 MST Print View

Most of the good places I know of have been touched on in posts above. Some additional detail on some:

Pedernales Falls SP. You can get 17 miles out of this park if you do all the trails including across the river, Jones Spring/Wolf Ridge, and the horse trail which is not on the park map but the rangers will give you a map of it if you ask. There's also a really nice bird blind visited by many species in winter. The park is especially nice when it's been raining and the creeks and springs are running.

Enchanted Rock is kind of small for hiking--you can get about 8 miles out of it, but the scenery is spectacular. Good place for contemplation, photography, and nature study. We used to do Thanksgiving with all the trimmings at the campground. Call early for reservations for this park. A great place to take kids on their first backpacking trips.

Bastrop State Park, just east of Austin, has an 8 mile loop through piney woods with gullies, rock outcrops, hidden ponds, and, just for fun, about 100 permanent orienteering markers (with map) that you can use to practice your map & compass skills in deliciously confusing terrain.

Lake Georgetown is a pretty area but has a very frontcountry feel to it since boaters can drive their boats up and party anywhere. But all the way around is 16 miles. Scouts use it for practice.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is spectacular. And challenging. No water to speak of up on the trails. I've been to the Rockies, California, Pacific NW, Smokies, Glacier, Ozarks, Big Bend, Whites in NH, and some other miscellaneous places, but there is nothing quite like the upper reaches of Guadalupe. You just have to go see for yourself. It is a long way from anywhere, though. Not a weekend destination. Not necessary to wait for the cool season; it is high enough in elevation to be comfortable even in August. A good opportunity to visit Carlsbad while you are over there.

Big Bend has a whole lot more desert hiking than mountain hiking. It is a vast region of desert hiking, with a spot of mountains in the middle where all the people (including me) go. Also a day's drive from Austin, farther from Dallas. There is also Big Bend Ranch State Park next door, another vast region of desert and hills, almost entirely undeveloped. I haven't been there but some friends enjoyed it very much.

Lost Maples is about 3.5 hours from Austin (winding roads) and has only about 7 miles (maybe more soon, they just bought a bit more land) of trails but they are truly excellent miles with deep canyons, ridgetops, streams, springs, and barking frogs to keep you company at night.

On any trip going west on IH-10 from central Texas I strongly recommend stopping at The Caverns of Sonora. Privately owned, 2 hour cave tour, $20/person, and utterly enchanting, really. One of the most "decorated" crystalline caves anywhere. Nice proprietors, car camping.

From Dallas +1 on the Ozarks. Not like the scale of the west but you can find some pretty rough country in there, together with lots of history. And, unlike Texas, a decent amount of public land.

Other posters are right about the water, though. Most places in central or west Texas, get used to carrying it.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Texas Backpacking? on 02/07/2010 20:15:44 MST Print View

It will be a pretty long drive to great backpacking. I face similar problems in Oklahoma. I feel that the long drive to New Mexico is worth it. Gila and Pecos Wilderness are great. Just north of Guadaluape NP is Carlsbad NP and Lincoln NF. The Butterfield hiking trail is another option. Wichita Mountains offers some good hiking.

Butterfield -

More Area Trips

Edited by akajut on 02/07/2010 20:17:50 MST.