West Texas: Restoring Your Sanity 1 Drive (& 2 Hikes) at a Time

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Tony Maples Photography


To those that reside in the Texas Hill Country, West Texas is that “whole nuther country” part of the state. If you are longing for some solitude, tired of the traffic jams, and need to see a distant horizon, go out to West Texas for a different point of view. The triangle of Fort Davis, Marfa, and Alpine in far West Texas hold lots of surprises. Here are two hikes and a drive which will restore your sanity.

1. Davis Mountains Hike

Davis Mountains Trail from Fort Davis NHP

Photo: Robert C Deming

Fort Davis National Historic Site is set in the mouth of a canyon, carved through an ancient lava flow on the east side of the Davis Mountains. Stop at the park headquarters, pay the entrance fee, pick up a trail map, and fill up your water bottle. At the north end of the officer housing, a trail leads up to a scenic overlook 300 feet above the fort. The Tall Grass Loop Trail connects with the Scenic Overlook Trail to make a 1.2-mile loop. The fort itself has excellent interpretative exhibits in the restored barracks, houses, and hospital.

2. Scenic Overlook of Fort Davis

Fort Davis Overlook from the Scenic View Point 300 Feet Above

Photo: Robert Deming

This view changes with the seasons but is one of West Texas’ finest. If you want to do more hiking before going back down into the Fort, the North Ridge Trail connects with Davis Mountains State Park. The trails are as much as 5,300 feet above sea level, which means they are cold in the winter but not so hot in the summer.

3. Fort Davis Scenic Loop

Davis Mountains Texas

Photo: Robert C Deming

Take a left out of Davis Mountains State Park on State Highway 118 for a 75-mile scenic loop drive which will bring you back to Fort Davis. The road is lightly traveled and there are no services, but it is long on scenery and quiet vistas.

4. Marfa Grassland Walk

Mimms Ranch Marfa

Photo: Robert C Deming

This walk on the Mimms Unit of the Dixon Water Foundation begins at the end of Austin Street on the north side of Marfa and offers exceptional views of the Marfa grassland. The trail ends at an overlook, 2.6 miles distant. The round-trip of 5.25 miles takes about two hours and 15 minutes and there is little elevation change. Interpretative signage along the way explains sustainable ranching practices and some of the wildlife you will see along the way. If you intend to make the full hike, take some water and a light snack.

5. Finish the Day at the Hotel Saint George

Cheeseburger and Beer at St George Hotel

Photo: Robert C Deming

The brand new Hotel Saint George in Marfa has a swimming pool and bar open to the public after 4 p.m. Order a Big Bend Brewing beer and this fabulous cheeseburger at Bar Nadar to wrap up a beautiful (and tiring) West Texas Adventure.

Robert C Deming is a writer in Fredericksburg, Texas, the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.