top of page

Pine Canyon & Lost Mine Trails at Big Bend National Park

Part 3 of 4 on my recent Run-Cation in Big Bend. On the second day we had to make a lot of pivots and ended up running two trails that we weren't thinking of running at all, and I'm so glad we did. Here is a look into each trail.


The dashed lines on the map are backcountry gravel roads that are not always maintained.

We woke up on the first morning of our trip at Gravel Pit 1 and headed out across River Road East towards our campsite for the rest of the trip at Loop Camp. Originally we wanted to go set up our next camp site then head over to the Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail. However, like I mentioned in part 1 of this series, Big Bend is big. When we turned north on the Glen Springs road the cut through road was closed so we figured we would head north and cut across Black Gap Road instead. But when we got to the turn off the warning sign about needing a high clearance vehicle turned us away. My Jeep isn't that big. Not to mention I was already at under half a tank of gas and I was getting concerned about running out of gas in the backcountry.

At this point we'd already been driving for about 2.5 hours and were itching to get out and start running. We pulled out the park map once again and decided that the best thing to do would be to continue north up Glenn Springs Road and hit the 4 mile out and back Pine Canyon Trail, then pop out on the main road stop to get gas at the only gas station in the entire park before heading over to one of the most popular hikes in Big Bend, The Lost Mine Trail.


Pine Canyon Trail

The Pine Canyon Trail is a 4 mile out and back that dead ends into a shaded grove at the base of the canyon. There is a trickling waterfall that rains down over the canyon wall cooling the entire area. After running 2 miles straight up a 1,100 foot climb it was nice to rest for a few minutes on the cool rocks.

As I mentioned in the first post of the series (see Big Bend National Park Run-Cation) shade and water can be hard to find in the park so it is a real treat when you can find both in the same place.

It took us 1 hour and 16 minutes to run the 4 miles and we averaged an 18:44 pace. I don't usually pause my watch when we stop on trails because I like to know the total time in which it took us to complete.

We had some bumps on the way up also. Just past the first mile my friend tripped on a rock and reached out to catch herself grabbing onto the first thing her hands could grab onto. A sharp ribbed agave type shrub that completely sliced up her entire hand. There was blood everywhere. Luckily, a family of hikers had a first aid kit (we meant to put ours in our hydration pack and completely forgot) and before you knew it we were back on our way climbing up the steep grade.

There is no shade on this trail until you reach the end. I found myself not stopping to look around and it wasn't until we were on the way back down that I stopped and noticed the spectacular view of the desert. In Big Bend it's easy to forget that you're in the mountains. The desert colors blend the hazy landscape making it seem flatter then what it really is. This trail is higher up than it may appear. This trail goes straight up the mountain between two peaks and it creates a really cool window of sorts overlooking the vast desert.

Back at the car we crabbed some snacks and headed off to the next stop. The gas station. I cannot say this enough, Big Bend is really big. So if you're planning a trip I recommend stopping at the only gas station in the park any time you drive by it, and if you're traveling in the back country carry a gas can if you have it.

From there we were off to the next trail, The Lost Mine.


Lost Mine Trail

The nice thing about hitting these two trails together is that it takes only about 45 minutes to drive from one to the next. Sometimes it's hard to get in a lot of trails in Big Bend because of how long it takes to get from one trail to the next. My advice to anyone looking to take a trip is to plan your days in sections. Spend one day exploring one section of the the park and another day exploring another. It took us nearly 3 hours to get out of the park on our last day because of where we were camping, but I'll get to that in part 4.

The Lost Mine Trail is one of the most popular in the park. It is a 5 mile out and back trail with a 1,300 foot incline. The last half mile of the hike is across a dramatic ridge line providing some absolutely stunning views. This is definitely a trail you do not want to miss out on. It took us a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete. By the time we made it to the top our legs were feeling all of the miles and elevation we'd climbed so we spend quite a bit of time exploring all that the ridge line had to offer.

The trail is mostly straight with a steady incline until you get to a series of 7 or so switchbacks that lead to the top of the trail. Once reason that this trail is so popular is because there are lots of shady spots that along the route that you can stop at for a rest if you need it. About halfway through the switch backs there is a curve right along the side of the mountain that has some good boulders to sit on, shade and usually a good breeze flowing.

This was the second time I've ran the Lost Mine Trail and I can honestly say that it is a trail that I will run again and again in my life. It's a fun challenge and the views never get old.

Quick rant, because this trail is so popular we actually picked up a lot of trash on our way up and down. I'm sure some was an accident but I couldn't help but think that someone was just being lazy when I found 4 half-drank-single-use-plastic water bottles at the top of the trail in a pile. When trash is left it disturbs the wild life's natural habitat. If you love hiking in the great outdoors get away from single use plastic. Invest in a hydration vest so that you don't have to carry it. It will not only make you more comfortable while hiking but also help the environment.

Our legs were completely done after running 9 miles that day, so we got back in the Jeep and headed straight to our next campsite on the west side of River Road, Loop Camp. It took us over 3 hours to get to the site and we set up camp in the dark. At this point we'd run just over 15 miles and still had a long way to go to hit our goal of 20+ before the weekend was over. We saved the longest and most difficult trail for last, Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail. It was absolutely magical, but I'll wait to talk about it in the final part of this series.

Thanks for reading this far! If you haven't read Part 1 and 2 in this series you can find them below, and if you want to see a video of the trail head to my Instagram for a full video! I hope you're getting inspired to take a trip out to Big Bend National Park.


9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page