Great Hikes: Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend NP

Big Bend National Park is located in southwestern Texas and home to the Chisos Mountains, the only mountain range entirely contained within a national park. The trails here are a great place to check out desert flora, and one of the best hikes in the area is the Lost Mine Trail.

Legend has it that when early Spanish explorers came to the area, they found a rich ore body at the highest point of Lost Mine Peak. Life-term prisoners were blindfoded to protect the mine's location and then taken there to extract the ore. The story of the mine ends when the Comanche Indians, angry at the Spaniards for invading their land and hunting grounds, attacked and killed every last person in the area. Their final act was to seal up the mine to prevent any more exploitation. To find this relic, you must stand in the chapel door of San Vicente's Mission early on Easter morning. The first ray of sun will hit the entrance to the mine.

While you may not find Lost Mine while on the trail, keep your eyes peeled for alligator junipers, Mexican pinon pines and emory oaks, as well as the strawberry cactus (rumored to have one of the tastiest fruits of any desert plant).

If you have limited time, hike one mile down the trail to marker 10, where you'll find great views of Casa Grande and Juniper Canyon. For a longer and more scenic hike, continue on the steep trail in and out of juniper, oak and pine forests. At the top, you'll be rewarded with views of Pine Canyon and the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico.

Distance: 4.7 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1300 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Duration: 3 hours

Best Time to Go: October – May, but make sure to check the weather conditions. In the winter, there can be snow and temperatures vary throughout the fall and spring.

How to get there: The Midland and El Paso International airports are closest to Big Bend National Park. You'll definitely need to rent a car for the 3.5 – 4.5-hour drive. Check at the ranger's station for exact directions. The trailhead begins at mile 5.1 on Basin Road.

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