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Showing posts from November, 2012

Carlsbad Caverns

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Location: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Date: November 21, 2012

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in southeastern New Mexico near Guadalupe Mountains National Park. See this post from November 2011 for more about the park.

During this visit I did not go down the natural entrance, but rather I took the elevator 750 feet down and walked around the Big Room. Here are some photos from that trip.









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McKittrick Canyon

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Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the Grotto, 5.5 mi (8.6 km) to where I stopped
Elevation gain: ~200 feet (61 m) to the Grotto, 1750 ft (533 m) to where I stopped
Date: November 4, 2012


McKittrick Canyon has been referred to as the most beautiful spot in Texas. This canyon is located in the northeast part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park just south of the New Mexico border. The canyon is only accessible via the McKittrick Canyon Trail, most commonly via the trailhead at the end of McKittrick Canyon Road. The gate at the end of this road is unlocked only from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm during Daylight Standard Time and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during Daylight Savings Time.


The trail starts at the McKittrick Canyon Contact Station and parallels the wash, crossing it several times. When you first enter the canyon, Wilderness Ridge towers over the north side of the trail, but as you approach Pratt Cabin you begin to see deeper into the canyon. Pratt…

Smith Spring Trail

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Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7 km) round trip
Elevation gain: 410 feet (125 m)
Date: November 3, 2012


After hiking to Hunter Peak on my second day in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I went to Frijole Ranch, which is a house constructed in 1876 that is currently used as a museum. I did not go into the house but rather hiked the 2.3 mile loop trail to Smith Spring.


By hiking the trail counterclockwise, you begin on a 0.4 mile paved, flat, and handicapped accessible section to Manzanita Spring. Manzanita Spring is a small pond below the Guadalupe Mountain foothills in the Chihuahuan Desert that serves an oasis.


After continuing beyond the Manzanita Spring, the trail is a narrow and rocky dirt path to Smith Spring. Much of the trail is through desert, and it drops into a wash at one point, but then exits and moderately gains elevation.


The trail soon reaches a small wooded area at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains, and before you know it y…

Hunter Peak, TX

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Elevation: 8,368 feet (2550 m)
Elevation gain: 2,525 feet (769 m)
Distance: 8.7 miles (14 km) round trip
Class: 1
Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Date: November 3, 2012


Hunter Peak is the sixth highest peak in Texas but dominates much of the southern part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This is because it rises straight up above Pine Spring Canyon and is more visible in this area than the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak which is across the canyon to the southwest.


There are several trails in the area of the peak, but I hiked it as a loop trail ascending the Tejas Trail from the Pine Springs Trailhead and descending via the Bear Canyon Trail. The Bowl Trail is on the forested high elevation areas on the north side of the peak.


I began hiking the Tejas Trail at 9:00 am while it was still very cloudy. The Tejas Trail begins as a mostly flat trail in Pine Spring Canyon but then begins moderately gaining elevation as it ascends the north side of the canyon. …

Devil's Hall

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Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Distance: 4.2 miles (6.8 km) round trip
Elevation gain: ~500 feet (150 m)
Date: November 2, 2012


The Devil's Hall Trail is the most accessible area of Guadalupe Mountains National Park for viewing fall foliage, which is typically at its peak around the first week of November. I also hiked the 2.1 mile long out and back trail last year, which you can view here.



I arrived in the park shortly after 2:00 pm on November 2 and began hiking from the Pine Springs trailhead at 3:00 after setting up my campsite in the Pine Springs Campground. The first mile of the trail through the lower section of Pine Springs Canyon is fairly easy and has great views of Hunter Peak, but it has few trees.


After the first mile the trail drops down into the Pine Springs wash, which the trail follows all the way to Devil's Hall. This second mile is the where most of the colorful deciduous trees are. Because the trail follows the wash it is very rocky and …