OverviewAt 8368 feet elevation, Hunter Peak is the sixth highest mountain in Texas and only 381 feet lower than the highest peak (Guadalupe Peak) in the state. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the Guadalupe Mountains and is said by many sources to have the “best views in Texas”. Hunter Peak also offers an advantage of having several nice loop hike possibilities.
There are good trails leading to the summit of Hunter Peak, but due to its proximity to the state highpoint, it receives much less attention that Guadalupe Peak. While there on Spring Break, we saw many people on Guadalupe Peak, but we didn’t see anyone near the summit of Hunter Peak.
The north side of the mountain slopes gently and is covered with pine trees (white pine, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir) and other vegetation, while the south side is much steeper, more rugged and has a much more desert like appearance. Like the other peaks in the Guadalupe Mountains, Hunter Peak is part of a fossilized coral reef and is composed of fossil rich limestone.
Getting TherePine Springs Trailhead
This is the main trailhead for Hunter Peak and is the same as the trailhead for Guadalupe Peak. The trailhead is off US 62/180 about 110 miles east of El Paso or 56 miles southwest of Carlsbad (NM). From the visitor center north of the highway, the trailhead is at the Pine Springs Campground 0.5 miles up the road. A sign marks the trailhead.
Dog Canyon Trailhead
It is also possible to climb Hunter Peak from the Dog Canyon Trailhead. The turnoff for the Dog Canyon Trailhead is about 12 miles north of Carlsbad (NM) on SH 137. Follow SH 137 for 58 miles to the trailhead at the Dog Canyon Campground.
McKittrick Canyon Trailhead
McKittrick Canyon is located east of the Pine Springs Trailhead as mentioned above. The exit from US 62/180 is about 8 miles east of Pine Springs or 118 miles east of El Paso and 48 miles southwest of Carlsbad NM. From the signed turnoff, drive 4.5 miles to the trailhead where a visitor center is located.
Routes OverviewBear Canyon-Tejas Trail Loop
This is the standard route up Hunter Peak and makes a fine 8.5 mile loop. You can hike the trail in either direction, but the Bear Canyon Route is much steeper. We chose this route for the ascent and descended the Tejas Canyon Route, which is the recommended route. The summit is a short 0.1 miles off the loop route. This route affords fine views and a pine forest.
See the Route Page for more details.
The Dog Canyon Route is much longer than the loop route above, but affords a long one way wilderness hike. From Dog Canyon it is 9.6 miles each way (following the Tejas Trail for much of the distance) to Hunter Peak at which point you can descend the standard routes as outlined above.
Some hikes even use the McKittrick Canyon Trailhead to access the Tejas Trail, but this is an even longer route. From McKittrick Canyon, Hunter Peak is 16.2 miles one way, but this is said to be a very scenic hike.
Red TapeAn entrance fee of $5 is charged per person for people over 16 years of age and is good for seven days. An additional permit is needed for overnight hikes.
CampingThe Pine Springs Campground at the main trailhead is a pleasant campsite, but be prepared for possible high winds, especially in early spring. The fee is $8 per night per campsite. Be aware that during Spring Break this campground is often (perhaps usually) full, but it’s easier to get a campsite most of the rest of the year.
The Dog Canyon Campground also has an $8 fee per person per night and is seldom full.
Backcountry camping is also allowed in the park.
There aren’t many public lands in the area outside the national park, so if the campgrounds are full you will probably have to drive to New Mexico and camp on BLM land. Inquire at the visitor center.
When to ClimbOctober through April is the best time to climb Hunter Peak. May and September might not be too bad, but June through August would be quite hot especially since the main access routes are south facing.
Little snow usually falls in the Guadalupe Mountains, but occasional storms do pass through and it occasionally snows from late November to early April.
Spring tends to be very windy and a strong 4-season tent is recommended for camping at the campground. Spring Break is the most popular time of year in the Guadalupe Mountains and finding a campsite can be difficult. It may be best to check on when the college spring breaks in Texas happen to be and plan around these dates.
July through September or October can bring heavy thunderstorms and most of the year's precipitation falls during this time.
Fall tends to be less windy and has more weather stable than spring.
A little snow in the mountains will make extended overnight backpacking trips easier since there is very little running water in the Guadalupe Mountains and none around Hunter Peak.
Mountain ConditionsFor current trail conditions, more information, and access issues contact:
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
400 Pine Canyon Road
Salt Flat, TX 79847-9400
Click Here to Email
Headquarters Visitor Center
Dog Canyon Ranger Station
CLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST
Weather and climate data for the Pine Springs Weather Station located near the trailhead at 5630 feet elevation is below. *National Weather Service Data 1938-2008. The temperatures near the summit of the peak will be around 10 degrees cooler than they are at Pine Springs.
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