Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Grapevine Hills Trail – Big Bend National Park

in Big Bend National Park Hiking Trails

To get to Grapevine Hills Trail, take a left out of the parking lot of the park headquarters at Panther Junction. You’ll take a right onto Grapevine Hills Road (29.338323, -103.259339), which will be the first dirt road on the right, just after the turn-off to Chisos Basin.

The trailhead is located about six and one-half miles up Grapevine Hills Road, on the right. There will be a small parking lot there (29.410405, -103.207613), which typically stays busy.

Grapevine Hills Road is dirt, but generally well maintained. Just take it slow if you’re not in a high clearance vehicle. Some areas can be very rough and you’ll need to be cautious in navigating them.

  • Distance:  2 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Easy, with a small uphill climb in the last 1/4 mile. It’ll probably be necessary to use both hands and feet after this point.
  • USGS Topo:  Grapevine Hills

Grapevine Hills Trail Topo Map

You’ll see the trailhead shortly after passing Grapevine Hills Trail backcountry campsites #2 and #3 on the right, then just after you start driving parallel with the taller hills.

Grapevine Hills Trailhead

The trailhead is clearly marked with a sign on the right, and is very well traveled.

Grapevine Hills Trail Head

The first 1.75 miles of the trail passes through a narrow valley between the rocky hills. It should be easy on your feet as its mostly sand or gravel, and easy to follow.

Grapevine Hills Trail

Near the end will be a marker (29.399902, -103.202159) letting you know that the last 1/4 mile is an uphill climb. You’ll likely need to use your hands to traverse the steep trail after this point.

Steep Marker

Once you get about halfway up, you can clearly see the trail you just traveled. The parking area is just around the hill on the left.

Grapevine Hills Trail From The Top

As you climb the last part of the trail, pay close attention to your surroundings. It’s more difficult to find your way back down than it is to find your way up.

 

Just before you reach Balanced Rock, you’ll notice an interesting little cave on your left. If it weren’t for all the noisy humans, I imagine some coyotes would love to set up shop in there.

Cave on Grapevine Hills Trail

Shortly after the cave you’ll arrive at Balanced Rock (29.398945, -103.202887). It looks like a strong wind could blow it down, but its been there for thousands of years, balanced perfectly between two boulders.

Balanced Rock

Don’t be hesitant to walk underneath and take a look at the view, it wont smash you.

View Through Balanced Rock

You can walk through and go another fifty feet or so to get a great view of the Chisos to your right and the Sierra Del Carmen at a distance in front of you.

This is a busy trail throughout most of the year. The best time to visit is in the colder months in the winter, as in the summer it gets very hot. The lower elevations can be as much as twenty degrees hotter than the higher elevations up in the Chisos.

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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