NPS News Release – Park visitors now have an additional opportunity to enjoy the wide-open spaces of Big Bend along a brand new hiking trail. The Lone Mountain Trail now offers a moderately challenging 3-mile loop that circumnavigates the base of Lone Mountain, an imposing feature just north of park headquarters at Panther Junction.
Visitors can now access the trail one mile north of Panther Junction. The trail is clearly marked with good signage. A ½ mile gravel access road leads to a small parking area and trailhead. Highlights of the route include spectacular views of the Chisos, Rosillos, and Dead Horse Mountains, a wide variety of desert plants and animals, and the interesting volcanic features of Lone Mountain itself. As a loop trail with only 200 feet of elevation gain, it is notably an excellent trail for families with children, and a perfect place for visitors to stretch their legs after a long drive to Big Bend.
The trail was meticulously planned and constructed by the Big Bend National Park trail crew with help from Texas Conservation Corps. In establishing the final alignment, park staff considered trail sustainability, protection of natural & cultural resources, impact to viewsheds, and visitor safety. As they cleared the trail corridor, crews saved many native plants for revegetation efforts. To keep a consistent grade along the route, several tons of boulders, stone, and rubble were moved by hand and hand tools. These materials were repurposed to build up low and steep sections. Along most of the route, the final trail lies slightly higher than the surrounding desert expanse, offering excellent views and a different perspective on the Chihuahuan Desert.
The completion of the Lone Mountain Trail was the labor of many hands. All park divisions helped peel back the layers to create this trail to improve the visitor experience in Big Bend National Park. “With over 200 miles of trails, Big Bend is a world-renowned hiking location,” says Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker, “and we’re proud to add this new hiking opportunityso close to Panther Junction, the first stop for so many park visitors.”
Park Rangers wish to remind Big Bend visitors that summer in the Chihuahuan Desert means extreme heat. Temperatures over most of the park are currently reaching 100+ degrees by late morning and reach dangerous levels until well after sunset. Hikers should plan to stay off desert trails in the heat of the afternoon. Always carry and drink plenty of water.
Image credit: NPS / C. Hoyt