Hunter Peak, TX

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

Guadalupe Peak and Pine Spring Canyon from the Tejas Trail

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.

Pine Spring Canyon from the lower part of the Tejas Trail

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.

Pine Spring Canyon at the Hiker's Staircase from the Tejas Trail

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. There are a few fairly steep sections of the trail, but this is the preferred ascent route because it is a well-maintained trail that is overall not that steep given that it gains about 1,800 feet of elevation.


As the Tejas Trail gains elevation it passes above the Hiker's Staircase and Devil's Hall while providing great views of Pine Spring Canyon. When the trail reaches the canyon rim, it is at the intersection of the Bowl and Bush Mountain trails and just 0.2 miles from the Pine Top backcountry campground. At this point the route to Hunter Peak turns east and follows the Bowl Trail across the canyon rim. This trail travels through some Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forest to the peak. The trail gains about 500 feet in elevation over the one mile route to the summit.

The Bowl

When I reached the canyon rim the clouds had begun to clear, and by the time I was at the summit it was clear except for off to the east. The temperatures during my trip were in the 60s and 70s, while there was very little wind, especially compared to the 40-60 mph wind gusts I dealt with in 2011 on Guadalupe Peak.

The view from Hunter Peak
McKittrick Ridge from Hunter Peak

From the summit of Hunter Peak there are great views of Guadalupe Peak and Pine Spring Canyon. The view is mostly unobstructed in all directions, except the tops of a few small trees to the north You can also see across the northern part of the park, including a small part of McKittrick Ridge. When I first arrived at the summit I heard odd sounds before I saw that there were swifts flying rapidly just above me.

The Bowl Trail above Bear Canyon

In the middle of Bear Canyon

Only a tenth of a mile from below Hunter Peak, the trail reaches a fork, and I turned northeast on the trail for a half mile before reaching the top of Bear Canyon. Bear Canyon is a small steep canyon with a few trees in the middle section of it. There is part of the middle section of Bear Canyon that becomes fairly narrow at about where there were several maples if full yellow color. The trail is a steep and rocky 1.8 miles to its junction with the Frijole Trail at the bottom of the canyon. From the bottom of Bear Canyon it is 1.7 miles back to the trailhead across mostly flat Chihuahuan Desert.

Bear Canyon from near its bottom

Pine Spring Canyon from the FrijoleTrail

I was back at the trailhead before 1:00 pm, but this was after spending about a half hour at the summit. After a taking a break in the campground I drove over to Frijole Ranch and hiked to Smith Spring.

 
View Hunter Peak Route in a larger map



© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




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