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Big Bend Ranch State Park is one of the few truly wild places in West Texas. The park gets few visitors, trails are faint and access involves a long drive on back roads. The rewards are amazing scenery and solitude rarely found in West Texas. I hiked the Rancherias Loop Trail, one of the best hikes through the State Park. The hike leads over mountains, mesas, and through canyons. It is supposed to take at least three days, and the ranger said I might need four. I took that as a challenge and did the loop in two days!


  • This route has the most solitude of any trip I've done in Texas. Rangers told me only one other party was hiking the loop that weekend and they were a day ahead of me. I never saw them. I did see two-day hikers at the very end, but they were the only people I saw.
  • Navigation was tricky because the trail often followed dried up creek beds. This was made worse by the fact that my map and GPS didn't always match the reality on the ground.
  • Unlike most West Texas hikes this route has relatively reliable springs along it so you don't have to haul tons of water with you.
Rancherias Loop Trail Route, Rancherias Loop Trail Schmidt The Author, Rancherias Loop Trail Schmidt

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Article Outline

  • Introduction
  • Photo Essay
  • Gear Notes
  • Lessons Learned

# of Photos: 21; Word Count: 1800

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