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Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail | Big Bend National Park

One of the main reasons I like to get out in nature is to get away from everything. Get away from the physical and digital noise. Leave the city lights behind. This is what drew me to the Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail. It is the most remote trail in the entire park. It requires a 2 hour drive from the main road near Castolon, and was nearly an hour from our campsite at Loop Camp. Yea, Big Bend is really big.

The canyon is the steepest in the park and the rim runs along the northward bend in the river that gives the region its name; Big Bend. This trail was so remote that we only saw three other people the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes that we were on it. It was just what my soul was looking for that weekend.


When we woke up that morning we were feeling all of the miles we'd run in the past 2 days. By then we'd ran 15.5 miles and 3,685 feet of elevation. I'll be the first to admit that I do NOT run that kind of mileage on the regular. I consider myself a very recreational distance runner, hence the name of this blog. The fatigue was real, so when we arrived at the trailhead that morning we made a game time decision to switch into our boots, hike up to the rim and jog as much as we could back down.


I know you might be wondering how on earth I was able to run down 1,400 feet of elevation in heavy hiking boots. Honestly, writing that out makes my knees and hips hurt, but I was able to do it because of the boots I was wearing. On makes fantastic trail shoes and their boots are no exception. They're light as a feather, yet sturdy, and have saved my ankles on more than one occasion. They wear like sneakers and hike like boots.

The first 1.5 miles of the trail are deceivingly easy. You're walking through the flat open dessert floor, and other than the fact that there is not shade or water (on this entire trail) it's not difficult, but don't let that fool you into thinking that it's going to be a breeze. At the halfway point there are some rolling hills. As you climb to the top of one you pass through a giant Ocotillo field then start to ascend the 1,400 feet to the top of the canyon rim.


Until then our legs were fine, but once we started to make the near scramble on the last mile our legs and joints really started to feel it. We stopped often. My friend even got lightheaded and nauseous at one point. This trail can be really dangerous late spring through the summer. It's important to bring tons of water and wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. If I were to take this trail again I would have started earlier in the day and worn a larger hat. That morning I nearly put on a tank top but my shoulders were glad that I picked a t-shirt instead.


The trail is not well marked the last quarter mile, and we got a little turned around on our way up and on the way back down. It took us longer than we thought it would to get to the top, but it was completely worth it. The canyon was breathtaking. We just so happened to be there during the Peregrine Falcon mating season and the falcons had used the canyon walls for their nesting.

I sat down at the edge of the canyon and dangled my legs over the side. Dozens of falcons were soaring just overhead. I could have watched them landing and taking off from the vertiginous walls all afternoon. They were majestic.


The way back down took us less than half the time. Now that our legs were warm from the climb, we soared down the slopes in record time.


At the trail head there is a campsite called Talley with fantastic river access. Next time I visit Big Bend I think I would like to stay here. Like I mentioned in part 1 of this series (click here to read pt. 1), the river access in the park is rather limited. So the fact that we were able to wash away the sweat from the past couple days in the river was a real treat. It was the perfect way to end the trip.


This trip was the recharge I was craving. I need to run away from the stresses of everyday life from time to time. Running far into the wilderness refreshes my spirit and soul. The next trip helps keep me motivated in the day to day. I'm already searching for the next trip. I can't wait to see where it takes me.


From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading about my latest trip in Big Bend. I hope it's given you a little bit of fire to search for your next adventure. If you enjoyed it, please comment below with a trip you recently took and share this with a friend.


Run On,

Coach Sonya


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Did you miss parts 1-3 of this series? CLICK HERE

To watch a video on the trail visit my Instagram! CLICK HERE





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