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The Hard-Earned Reward of Hiking the Summit of Guadalupe Peak

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The Guadalupe Peak hike can be strenuous, but the pay-off as you reach the 8,000-foot summit is the feeling of being on top of the world – literally. The 8.5-mile round-trip hike will take approximately eight hours to complete and provides amazing views at various points, as well as introduces hikers to a number of the ecosystems of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but one of the highlights of making the trek to what seems to be the top of Texas is to sign the Guadalupe Peak register!

The Hard-Earned Reward of Hiking the Summit of Guadalupe Peak

Photo: Facebook/Keith Melvin

The hike up Guadalupe Peak is very rewarding, and from high desert to high elevation forests, the steepest experience will actually be in the first mile-and-a-half. The entire trek is very strenuous and will require experience, but it rewards its hikers with the experience of achievement once they’ve made it to the summit. The trail commences at an RV section of the Pine Springs Campground. You’ll want to check in at the Pine Springs Visitor Center to ensure people are aware you’re there, and then turning right out of the visitor center parking lot, follow the signage to the Guadalupe Peak Trail. Make sure you take the hiker trail, as there’s also an equestrian trail, however, this adds one extra mile to your trip.

The Hard-Earned Reward of Hiking the Summit of Guadalupe Peak

Photo: Facebook/Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The park service asks that you not cut across the switchbacks on the trail, noting that this can cause accelerated erosion. After the first mile-and-a-half, the trail becomes less steep, passes a cliff, and then turns toward the north-facing slope, where hikers will experience a forest of pinion pine, Douglas fir, and southwestern white pine, which can flourish on the north-facing slope with minimal sunlight. Following this, you’ll hike approximately three miles where you’ll reach a false summit, where, if you’re overnighting, the backcountry campsite is located. At this point the trail will level off for a period before again passing through a sparse forest, this time of ponderosa pine.

The Hard-Earned Reward of Hiking the Summit of Guadalupe Peak

Photo: Facebook/Gimme Shelter

After you’ve passed the false summit, the trail begins to descend slightly and you’ll cross a wooden bridge where the trail will commence the final climb to the summit. After making a few switchbacks, and passing the horse hitching posts, you’ll arrive at the summit. If it’s a clear day, your reward will be an amazing view of the surrounding mountain chain and desert, together with a monument that commemorates overland stage and air travel. This monument was installed at the peak in 1958, prior to the area becoming a national park, and of course now marks the turnaround point for the hike back down. It’s breathtaking, to say the least, and a hike that many people train in advance for but almost never regret.


National Park Service