Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Burro Spring Trail – Big Bend National Park

in Big Bend National Park Hiking Trails

Burro Spring Trail is a lightly traveled trail, just down the road from Burro Mesa Pour-off, that ends at a cliff overlooking the lush green area around Burro Spring.

The book Hiking Big Bend shows the trail as a loop around the hill, but on my trip I just couldn’t see a safe path down to the spring itself. Additionally, most other materials I’ve seen on the trail, such as Google Maps and Garmin Basecamp, show it as an out-and-back trail.

I hiked this trail solo, so I didn’t want to take too many chances trying to navigate to the bottom of the spring. Next time I hike it with somebody, I’ll see about finding a path down. In the meantime I would recommend turning back at the cliff.

Burro Spring Trail Topo

Burro Spring Trail - Elevation Changes

  • Distance:  2.3 mile round trip
  • Hiking Time:  ~1 hour
  • Difficulty:  Easy
  • Elevation Change:  ~115 ft.
  • USGS Topo:  Cerro Castellan

To get to the trailhead for Burro Spring Trail (29.230796, -103.417781), take a left out of Park Headquarters at Panther Junction and drive approximately 13 miles to take a left hand turn onto Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Castolon. From there, you’ll need to drive about 11.3 miles to a right hand turn for Burro Mesa Pour-off (29.219886, -103.414632). Take this paved road about 1.1 miles until you see a pull off on the left hand side of the road. The trailhead is at this pull off.

Don’t be fooled by the trailhead marker. This trail is not a 1.5 mile round-trip. My GPS measured it at 2.3 miles round-trip, I measured it in Arc Explorer at 2.26 miles, and the book Hiking Big Bend, by Laurence Parent, shows it at 2.2 miles. That’s an extra 0.8 miles, not a lot to some hikers, but it may be more than others want to deal with.

Burro Spring Trail - Wrong

From the parking lot, you’ll hike toward the right side of the mountain, crossing several dry washes before you reach it.

Burro Spring Trail

As you start winding your way around the mountain, the road will fall out of sight and you’ll get that feeling of isolation that Laurence Parent talks about in his hiking guide.

Burro Spring Isolation

Once you start rounding the backside of the mountain, the trail will start descending into a dry wash. Be careful at the top of the descent, the trail gets a bit narrow with some loose rock that can make the footing a little difficult.

Once you get down the descent, the trail will hug the cliff on your left with the dry wash a little distance off to the right. With the shade offered by the cliff walls, this is a great place to sit and relax a bit. Just look out for snakes staying cool in the cracks and crevices around the rocks.

Shade on Burro Spring Trail

As you continue on, Santa Elena Canyon will start to become visible miles in the distance.

Santa Elena from Burro Spring Trail

Once you get the the cliff’s edge, Burro Spring will come into sight. You’ll see tall cottonwoods and other dense vegetation in the valley below.

Burro Spring

As you can see in the picture below, it’s fairly steep. Again, I don’t recommend continuing on from here.

Burro Spring Cliff

Related Posts:

Hiking Big BendPrior to heading out for a hike in Big Bend, we recommend throwing a copy of the Trails Illustrated Big Bend Map in your backpack. The map provided at the entrance station is helpful, but not detailed enough for getting off the road and onto a trail. It’s also helpful to have a copy of Hiking Big Bend, by Laurence Parent.

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