Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

The Pinery Trail

in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The Pinery Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a short, self guided, interpretive trail starting at park headquarters. This trail is wheelchair accessible, allows dogs (on a leash), and is also great for very young kids.

Even if you’re a serious hiker than can knock down the most difficult trails without breaking a sweat, this is a great trail to hike if you’re unfamiliar with this part of the Chihuahuan Desert. Getting familiar with the environment you’re exploring will make that big hike you have planned that much more rewarding.

The Pinery Trail - Map

  • Distance:  0.9 miles out and back
  • Hiking Time:  ~20 minutes
  • Difficulty:  Very Easy
  • Elevation Change:  ~75 ft.
  • USGS Topo:  Guadalupe Peak

The guide book we recommend for hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park park calls this trail a 0.75 mile loop, but it clearly is not a loop and my GPS calls it a 0.90 mile trail.

Getting to the Trailhead

There are two separate trailheads for The Pinery Trail. One begins at a pull-off on the Highway, just to the East of the main entrance to the park (31.893071, -104.817001). The other, which we used to begin our hike for this post, begins just behind the visitor’s center at Pine Springs (park headquarters) (31.894428, -104.821920).

Pine Springs Visitor's Center - Guadalupe Mountains

The photo above is the walkway leading up to the Pine Springs Visitor’s Center from the main parking area. Once you cross the small bridge in the picture above, you’ll want to hang a left and go through the sitting area. The trailhead will begin just behind the building (to the left of the building) on the other side of the sitting area.

The Pinery Trail

Hiking The Pinery Trail

The first portion of The Pinery Trail will take you along a paved path through the desert brush with the Guadalupe Mountains rising up on your left and the desert lowlands to your right.

The beginning of The Pinery Trail

Along the path you’ll see numerous signs identifying the variety of plant-life that you’ll encounter in the Guadalupe Mountains region.

Signs along The Pinery Trail

These signs are helpful to identify unfamiliar vegetation, such as the Texas Madrone Tree (one of my favorite trees in the region, with its smooth reddish inner bark), which is an unusual tree that, in the U.S., is uncommon anywhere other than Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas.

Texas Madrone Tree

In a couple of spots along the trail you’ll find benches where you can sit and relax before moving on. This one was set up in a nice shady spot. Perfect for getting out of the midday sun.

Bench

About one-third of a mile down the trail you’ll hit a ‘T’ where a right turn will take you to the highway parking area, and a left turn will take you to the ruins of the Pinery Station, a way station along the Butterfield Overland Mail Route.

Once you take a left turn here you’ll find another bench (no shade) with a sign that gives you a brief history of the area.

Another bench on The Pinery Trail

Just beyond the bench and sign, you’ll find some of the remnants of the original Pinery Station.

The Pinery Station - Butterfield Overland Mail

From here the pavement ends, but the trail continues on for another hundred yards to the ruins of an old outbuilding.

Outbuilding of The Pinery Station

It appears from here that the trail continues on in a couple of directions. In one direction, it dead-ends about a hundred foot away in a dry creek-bed. The other takes you through a rough trail back to the highway parking area. The easiest thing to do from here is just backtrack over the trail you just hiked, back to the trailhead at the visitor’s center.

Related Posts:

 

Hiking Big Bend National ParkIf you want a full guide to all of the hiking trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we recommend picking up a copy of Hiking Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe Mountains National Parks on Amazon. It covers almost every trail in the park and easily fits into your pack. A copy of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map should also be in your pack.

 

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