Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Backcountry Camping => Topic started by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 02:09:17 PM

Title: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 02:09:17 PM
hi there.  I'm looking for some ideas for trails that are good for hiking in, doing an overnight, and hiking out.  Something similar to the Marufo Vega trail.  any recommendations for this time of year?

I'm assuming the Chisos backcountry sites will be pretty packed in March so I was looking for something else.  I could also consider a two night trek as well.  I'd love to do the OML right now but i'll be solo this trip and I'd rather save that one for the fall and do it with a buddy.

Apologies if this is posted somewhere.  I did try a search but didn't find many useful results
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 02:21:53 PM
follow up question -- What about mule ears?  Im ashamed to say i've never hiked over there.  Can you zone camp over there?
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: congahead on February 25, 2018, 02:24:38 PM
Hike Mule Ears to Smoky Creek and head north. Beautiful and a decent chance of finding water.  Thatís an out-and-back; if you can get a shuttle, consider starting at Homer Wilson, taking Dodson to Smoky Creek, then heading south to Mule Ears and hiking back out Mule Ears.  Plenty of nice camping places along Smoky Creek.


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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 02:46:54 PM
Man I wish I could get a shuttle because that would be perfect.  I've hitch hiked back to the chisos basin parking lot before but I felt weird about it  -- I'd rather not do that again.

So are there some good zone camping spots along the smokey creek trail?


Hike Mule Ears to Smoky Creek and head north. Beautiful and a decent chance of finding water.  Thatís an out-and-back; if you can get a shuttle, consider starting at Homer Wilson, taking Dodson to Smoky Creek, then heading south to Mule Ears and hiking back out Mule Ears.  Plenty of nice camping places along Smoky Creek.


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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: DesertRatShorty on February 25, 2018, 02:54:11 PM
Yes, you can zone camp in the Mule Ears area. That would be my recommendation. It only takes a couple hours to get from the trailhead to a campsite near the Mule Ear Peaks. If you have extra time, I'd recommend (a) hiking around the ME peaks, (b) heading over to check out Smoky spring, or (c) checking out the many interesting washes right there in the ME area. ME spring is reliable and also worth checking out.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Homer Wilson on February 25, 2018, 03:10:05 PM
I concur with what the others are saying, start on the Dodson or Mule Ears, head out (you can take the Smokey Creek Trail if you want), get as far as you can, camp, and then hike out.
You can also head out to the Marufo and do a portion, or get to around Tinaja Blanca or so on the MDA. 
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: alan in shreveport on February 25, 2018, 03:37:32 PM
Haven't used it for awhile but the front desk at the lodge can/used to set up a shuttle for you. I last used it a couple of years ago and it cost $50 at that time. If you're interested you could call them and set it up.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 05:45:44 PM
great advice thanks everyone.  These are the maps i've got (the nat geo map and the one from the "hiking big bend" book).  Do I need any better ones?  If so, where should I look?
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: jim2 on February 25, 2018, 06:45:40 PM
I'll second going north on the Smoky Creek trail from Mules Ears, the trail takes you right to one of the most beautiful canyons in the park. 
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 25, 2018, 06:52:59 PM
I'll second going north on the Smoky Creek trail from Mules Ears, the trail takes you right to one of the most beautiful canyons in the park.

Whereís that?!  I wanna go!  How far from the trail split?


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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Flash on February 25, 2018, 08:10:49 PM
PuzzleJug, if you have a high clearance vehicle, you can combine some back road driving with your overnighter.  I have parked at the southern Elephant Tusk Trailhead and hiked roughly 5-miles to camp near Elegant Spring on the north side of Elephant Tusk Mountain. I have also parked a bunch of times at Juniper Canyon Trailhead and camped in four different spots, one spot near the trail just below Upper Juniper Springs and the other three various places off trail 1.5 to 2.5 miles over towards or up in the foothills below the Rim. Doesn't take much distance to go and find a lonely seldom traveled spot with a great view.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Hang10er on February 25, 2018, 08:33:26 PM
What about the hike Desert Rat Shorty just did, Sliprock Canyon?  Not far, but you could camp past the canyon where he did and explore the flats????
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: DesertRatShorty on February 25, 2018, 08:41:09 PM
You'll definitely want a more detailed map. Smoky Creek Trail is not a well worn trail like the Dodson, it has occasional cairns but completely fades out  in some sections. You'll need a map with 40' contour intervals and good land navigation skills. Take a look at the trip report index threads sticked at the top of the trip report board for trips in this area, and especially look at mule ears' recent report of a trip he took up Smoky Creek (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/your-trip-reports/mule-ears-to-mariscal-(and-back)-15494/) just a couple months ago. You can buy a custom map at mytopo.com, print your own after plotting your route on caltopo.com, or buy the relevant USGS quad maps. If you stick around the Mule Ears area, the navigation is easier but I'd still recommend a more detailed map.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on February 25, 2018, 10:07:58 PM
Just stopped by to say "thumbs-up" on the Blue Dog.  Used to have one hanging in my living room.  As far as maps, you can print your own custom ones using CalTopo. https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=29.16227,-103.39738&z=14&b=t

Good luck! Hope you have a great trip.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on February 26, 2018, 05:54:19 AM
hey thank you fellow coon ass!  good to meet you on here.  And thank you for the link!  I can print this out to scale and large format at the office.

This really is one of the best communities on the internet.  Thank you everyone on here

Just stopped by to say "thumbs-up" on the Blue Dog.  Used to have one hanging in my living room.  As far as maps, you can print your own custom ones using CalTopo. https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=29.16227,-103.39738&z=14&b=t

Good luck! Hope you have a great trip.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on February 26, 2018, 09:45:18 AM
hey thank you fellow coon ass!  good to meet you on here.  And thank you for the link!  I can print this out to scale and large format at the office.

This really is one of the best communities on the internet.  Thank you everyone on here

Just stopped by to say "thumbs-up" on the Blue Dog.  Used to have one hanging in my living room.  As far as maps, you can print your own custom ones using CalTopo. https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=29.16227,-103.39738&z=14&b=t

Good luck! Hope you have a great trip.

 :great:  I'm an Okie-Texan, but honorary coon ass by marriage.  Fortunately, that still gets me in the door. :icon_wink:
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: jim2 on February 26, 2018, 12:20:15 PM
Black Rock Canyon is on the trail north of the Mules Ears trail, about two miles from the trail junction. It's been years since I was there, so I may be off as to the mileage. I've done it twice as a very long day hike, it's worthy destination. I think it's better than Slick rock canyon or Banta Shut in.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on March 04, 2018, 12:45:47 PM
Haven't used it for awhile but the front desk at the lodge can/used to set up a shuttle for you. I last used it a couple of years ago and it cost $50 at that time. If you're interested you could call them and set it up.

So i just called and asked about this and the ranger said they didn't know anything, but pointed me towards some of the outfitters in terlingua.  Anyone else have any experience with it?

My ideal plan right now is mule ears to smokey creek to dodson and come out at homer wilson.  i'd love a ride back to my vehicle at the mule ears trail head
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 04, 2018, 12:59:25 PM
Haven't used it for awhile but the front desk at the lodge can/used to set up a shuttle for you. I last used it a couple of years ago and it cost $50 at that time. If you're interested you could call them and set it up.

So i just called and asked about this and the ranger said they didn't know anything, but pointed me towards some of the outfitters in terlingua.  Anyone else have any experience with it?

My ideal plan right now is mule ears to smokey creek to dodson and come out at homer wilson.  i'd love a ride back to my vehicle at the mule ears trail head

Don't call the rangers, call the front desk (not the reservation line) at the Chisos Mountain Lodge as suggested. Don't know if they still arrange shuttles , but they might.               

http://www.chisosmountainslodge.com/
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Quatro on March 04, 2018, 01:05:50 PM
Unless you are emerging at dusk, I would hitch-hike.  There are lots of folks stopping at Homer Wilson.  Act friendly, especially around those with pick up trucks, stand downwind (unless you plan on taking deodorant), and ask for a ride.  When you start to get desperate, wave a $10 bill from your hand for their effort.  It's not that far for them.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: puzzlejug on March 04, 2018, 02:13:05 PM
Unless you are emerging at dusk, I would hitch-hike.  There are lots of folks stopping at Homer Wilson.  Act friendly, especially around those with pick up trucks, stand downwind (unless you plan on taking deodorant), and ask for a ride.  When you start to get desperate, wave a $10 bill from your hand for their effort.  It's not that far for them.

I've had no luck with the shuttles except from far flung ($150!)

looks like it's going to be hitch hiking.  Do you think it would be better to start or end at homer wilson?  I think i'd like to leave my vehicle at homer wilson, and ask someone to drive me to mule ears to start
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 04, 2018, 02:36:15 PM
Unless you are emerging at dusk, I would hitch-hike.  There are lots of folks stopping at Homer Wilson.  Act friendly, especially around those with pick up trucks, stand downwind (unless you plan on taking deodorant), and ask for a ride.  When you start to get desperate, wave a $10 bill from your hand for their effort.  It's not that far for them.

I've had no luck with the shuttles except from far flung ($150!)

looks like it's going to be hitch hiking.  Do you think it would be better to start or end at homer wilson?  I think i'd like to leave my vehicle at homer wilson, and ask someone to drive me to mule ears to start

Yes, that should work. Homer Wilson is right smack on the shoulder of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. It gets a lot of traffic. Everyone driving there or past it will see you. And lots drive past on their way to points south (Mule Ears, Chimneys, Tuff Canyon, Castolon, Santa Elena). And to make it even easier, you could ask folks to simply drop you off at the exit to the Mule Ears trailhead and then you could walk the last several dozen yards. Mule Ears trailhead is set back a ways, not visible from the RMSD. Might be a bit harder to grab a ride from there.


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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 04, 2018, 02:38:01 PM
...stand downwind (unless you plan on taking deodorant), and ask for a ride.

Hahahaha! Itís the little things that separate success from failure.


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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Quatro on March 04, 2018, 03:50:06 PM
Do you think it would be better to start or end at homer wilson?  I think i'd like to leave my vehicle at homer wilson, and ask someone to drive me to mule ears to start

Yes, this is an even better plan.  Takes away the lingering uncertainty during the trip about whether you'll get a ride.  Also, there will be more cars travelling south in the morning.  Far fewer heading south in the late afternoon.  I think you are supposed to leave a copy of your permit in the window dash.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 04, 2018, 07:30:43 PM

Takes away the lingering uncertainty during the trip about whether you'll get a ride.  Also, there will be more cars travelling south in the morning.


Those are both VERY good points.



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Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: alan in shreveport on March 04, 2018, 07:50:24 PM
The Lodge's front desk's phone number is not really advertised well. Its 432-477-2292.
Title: Re: Looking for one night in and out trail recommendations
Post by: Reece on November 08, 2018, 08:52:07 AM
If you start a Mule Ears, you will be going uphill all the way, just saying. I did it starting at Blue Creek (Homer Wilson), downhill all the way! Easily hitched a ride from Mule Ears TH back to Blue Creek, took me three days but I'm old. There should be good water along Smoky Creek. If you use a handheld GPS, there are plenty of loadable tracks available for most if not all the trails in Big Bend that will supplement your sketchy maps.