Leaving Van Horn at 8: A.M. I was quickly drawn to the ruggedness of the Baylor mountains that accompany you for the first 20 or so miles of the trip. Approaching the park, you get your first glimpse of El Capitan. I was in awe. I would have never guessed that Texas had such rugged, beautiful mountains. From the trailhead I knew I was in for one heck of a hike. Take lots of water! The hike is 8.4 miles roundtrip with a vertical gain of 3000feet.
The trail begins to climb immediately. The first portion of the hike is a series of steep switchbacks. You cant even see the peak for the first half of this hike. The temperature was in the 70's. I imagine that hiking this peak in summer has some real temperature challenges ; especially the first part. The sun can be unrelenting. When you reach the second part of the hike, you are treated to some awesome views. There are narrow trails at certain points. Warning signs are very strategically located alerting you to the upcoming dangers. Be careful! Soon you climb over a group of rocks, and you find yourself surrounded by rugged beautiful mountains.It is almost like one has stepped back in time. Here you have a new adversary; the wind! The winds are quite strong on this stretch. Again, be careful. This part of the hike has some nice trails with high,steep drop-offs. If you have Agoraphobia, I would not recommend this hike for you. However this part of the trail climbs into some real nice green forest. Quite scenic, very nice. This hike is unique. It is the only hike I have been on that climbs through 3 eco-systems, Desert, lush green forest and Highcountry. Once you reach the wooden bridge, you are getting close to the summit. From here you are ready to hike the last pitch. The sun can really pound on you during this last stretch. Be prepared there are some steep trails here. The views from here are breathtaking. El Capitan, The Chihuahan Desert, Bush mountain, The Salt flats, totally awesome. Summited at 1:00 P.M.. Views from the summit are spectacular. I highly recommend this hike for anyone. National Geographic describes this as a "stairstepper of a hike." Believe it!