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Day Hike Suggestion

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Offline slhodge78

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Day Hike Suggestion
« on: February 14, 2018, 10:37:07 AM »
Hi,

We (me, husband, & 13 year old daughter) are thinking about heading out to GUMO for the weekend and I would love some advice about how to plan our time. We will leave after work Friday and drive as far as we can, probably stop around Fort Stockton. Is it safe to sleep in the car at one of the big rest stops on I-10 (air mattress in the back of the suv with down blankets) or should I just book a hotel in Fort Stockton?

With an early start we hope to be in the park by 9am Saturday. I called the park and was told the campground fills up each day, but we have a shot if we arrive early. If they are full he suggested the rest stop near the park was an ok place to sleep or drive into NM to camp on public land.

I know we want to hike Guadalupe Peak (probably Sunday). That leaves us most of the day Saturday. Can anyone recommend a partial day hike, not too exhausting, that would be a good warm up for the peak hike? We are trying to get our daughter interested or at least willing to come along with us on backpacking trips. She doesn't really like "easy" trails even if the view is good. She loves to be able to climb on things, so maybe a hike with some scrambling opportunities or at least some boulders to climb on near the trail.

We have been to the park before (I think daughter was 8 at the time). We hiked up the Tejas trail and camped at Pine Top for 1 night. That is the extent of the experience we have with GUMO.

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 01:27:42 PM »
The campground at the park will fill up, but in my experience, it always happens around sunset.  Show up by 4:00, and you will not have a problem.

2.5 hours to the park from Fort Stockton with a stop for gas.  I would drive to Van Horn and drive up from there.  The roads through Pecos and Orla are all torn up from the trucks.  Fracking has been great for Texas, but terrible for the roads.

Mckittrick Canyon is a must do hike. Water and trees with the chance to climb up the reef at the end of the trail.   Devil's Den is a great hike to climb around on when you get to the shut in.

You can try camping at Balmorhea State Park if you can get reservations.  Pretty crappy sites, but it will do in order to save some cash.  There is also camping at the Caverns of Sonora.  We were the only ones there when we stayed.  But it was a long time ago.
The older I get, the more I realize what freedom really means.  May God bless America

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Offline wigfall

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2018, 01:59:31 PM »
The campground at the park will fill up, but in my experience, it always happens around sunset.  Show up by 4:00, and you will not have a problem.

2.5 hours to the park from Fort Stockton with a stop for gas.  I would drive to Van Horn and drive up from there.  The roads through Pecos and Orla are all torn up from the trucks.  Fracking has been great for Texas, but terrible for the roads.

Mckittrick Canyon is a must do hike. Water and trees with the chance to climb up the reef at the end of the trail.   Devil's Den is a great hike to climb around on when you get to the shut in.

You can try camping at Balmorhea State Park if you can get reservations.  Pretty crappy sites, but it will do in order to save some cash.  There is also camping at the Caverns of Sonora.  We were the only ones there when we stayed.  But it was a long time ago.

The lodging and camping Balmorrea State Park is closed until 2019...

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Offline slhodge78

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2018, 02:21:46 PM »
Thanks. I think the Devil's Hall trail looks like a good choice if we get a spot at Pine Springs. In the unfortunate event we have to seek camping elsewhere, I think we would do the McKittrick hike (I'm really wanting to do this one in the fall).
We will be stopping for the night pretty late (maybe 11-12), so I don't really want to have to leave the interstate to find a park campground. My hope was to stay at the either the rest area before or after Ft Stockton, depending on how long my husband can stand driving I-10 in the dark (not much of a moon this weekend either). I could reserve a room in Ft Stockton (about $90 for the super8), but that takes away the flexibility of when to stop. Are the rest areas unsafe?

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2018, 02:57:33 PM »
I would suggest Devils Hall for something shorter but awesome. A few years back the campground used to never fill up. Now it's been full more often than not the past several times I've been.
Smith spring is another shortish moderate trail.

Definitely drive through Van Horn and up that way. Way more scenic.

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2018, 03:18:47 PM »
The campground at the park will fill up, but in my experience, it always happens around sunset.  Show up by 4:00, and you will not have a problem.

If it does get full, you might be lucky to get a spot at Friole Ranch area, and you can hike up to Smith Spring from there

2.5 hours to the park from Fort Stockton with a stop for gas.  I would drive to Van Horn and drive up from there.  The roads through Pecos and Orla are all torn up from the trucks.  Fracking has been great for Texas, but terrible for the roads.

DO NOT go through Orla, I have been driven that path 12 times in the past 2 years and it is horrible, not only the pot holes that are caverns but the traffic is horrible. There were actual stop lights between Orla and the park to allow trucking to safely access the road, especially when they have 20 fracking trucks pulling out one after the other.

Mckittrick Canyon is a must do hike. Water and trees with the chance to climb up the reef at the end of the trail.   Devil's Den is a great hike to climb around on when you get to the shut in.

You can try camping at Balmorhea State Park if you can get reservations.  Pretty crappy sites, but it will do in order to save some cash.  There is also camping at the Caverns of Sonora.  We were the only ones there when we stayed.  But it was a long time ago.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 03:25:20 PM by RichardM »
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2018, 05:14:20 PM »

If it does get full, you might be lucky to get a spot at Friole Ranch area, and you can hike up to Smith Spring from there



What is the Frijole Ranch area? Is that for equestrian use? I didn't know there camping spots there.

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Online backpacker56

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2018, 05:31:25 PM »
Last time I tried to sleep at a rest stop on the Interstate, it didn't work.  The semi-trucks park in there and leave their lights on and engines running.  Consequently I had a massive truck sitting right behind me with rumbling diesel and headlights blaring in the back window of my car.  I just couldn't relax, and if I'd fallen asleep would probably have awakened in a panic. 

I've thought about finding some chic little motel in Stockton, a throwback to the 1950's, that would be clean, cheap, and sort-of cool.  I tried the Town & Country Motel (432) 336-0600.  It was plain but okay, and cost me $62.15 total.  There was a surprising amount of auto traffic up and down the main drag all night.

As for Pine Spring campground, it empties by noon and refills in late afternoon, like a hotel.  So "arrive early" means early afternoon.  But you'll be there in the morning wanting to secure a spot and then go hiking, and the selection may not be very good until the afternoon.  If you hike first, you may return too late to find a good spot, if any.  I'm not sure what the answer is.  You might find an empty spot Saturday morning when you arrive, and have no problem.  Otherwise, you'll have to decide whether to sit and wait, or opt for one of the overflow options that have been mentioned.

My general advice is to go directly to the campground when you first arrive, and look for an empty site to lay claim to.  Don't waste any time stopping at the visitor's center.
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline Talusman

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2018, 07:25:45 AM »

If it does get full, you might be lucky to get a spot at Friole Ranch area, and you can hike up to Smith Spring from there



What is the Frijole Ranch area? Is that for equestrian use? I didn't know there camping spots there.

Driving from McKittrick to Pine Springs, just before Pine Springs, on the same side of the road is a turn off to the Friole Ranch House, trail to Smith Springs, etc. There are picnic spots there, and a restroom. I have pulled in there, parked and cowboy camped in the back area, They do not advertise this, and I have had people tell me they were told they could not stay overnight. Depends on the ranger if one comes around. But I have had others I know tell me they stayed there overnight when Pine Springs is full.
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2018, 08:19:59 AM »

If it does get full, you might be lucky to get a spot at Friole Ranch area, and you can hike up to Smith Spring from there



What is the Frijole Ranch area? Is that for equestrian use? I didn't know there camping spots there.

Driving from McKittrick to Pine Springs, just before Pine Springs, on the same side of the road is a turn off to the Friole Ranch House, trail to Smith Springs, etc. There are picnic spots there, and a restroom. I have pulled in there, parked and cowboy camped in the back area, They do not advertise this, and I have had people tell me they were told they could not stay overnight. Depends on the ranger if one comes around. But I have had others I know tell me they stayed there overnight when Pine Springs is full.

Okay. Yeah I definitely know what Frijole Ranch is. I just didn't realize you could camp there. I would definitely be one of the ones that's told it's not okay. Haha.

Anytime I've seen that Pine Springs was full, they tell you to go to the public land in NM.

Thanks for the clarification. The first several times I went to GUMO, it was nowhere near full. Now it's full all the time. In my opinion, it's not that great of a campground anyway. I guess it's just the only place around. I'm more than happy planning my trips so that I don't stay at a campground.

Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2018, 01:02:08 PM »
Others have given good advice on Pine Springs CG, Devil's Hall, and I also agree that 285 (Pecos highway) is to be avoided. The hour between Van Horn and GUMO you'll probably see no more than one vehicle. And it's newly resurfaced, mostly.
As far as the roadside parks on I-10,  yeah, they'll be packed with semis. The one on 62 just NW of the park less so. (I've slept there, but it's been 30 years). There is a sign* at Pine Springs campground directing campers to BLM land just across the New Mexico border for when Pine Springs is full. Have not actually been to it although I've been past it a hundred times. I assume it is pretty nondescript as far as camping.
good luck.

*at least there was in November.

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Online backpacker56

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Re: Day Hike Suggestion
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018, 06:11:07 PM »
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

 


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