Pine Peak is the 5th highest summit in the Davis Mountains, and at 7,710' above sea level, it is also the 15th highest point in the state. This summit is located entirely within the Davis Mountains Preserve which is owned and maintained by The Nature Conservancy. Although the area is only open to hikers a few times a year (see "Red Tape" section, below), the conservation efforts have preserved this area as a truly wild part of the state. As evidenced by its moniker, there are numerous stands of pine trees on the slopes of this mountain; the shady, rocky nature of this peak provides an especially good home to black bears and mountain lions in addition to all other manner of animals you wouldn't expect to find in Texas. Both whitetail and mule deer frequent this area of the Davis Mountains as well.
Like the rest of the Davis Mountains, Pine Peak is volcanic in its origin. An ancient basalt lava flow causes the mesa-like nature of this mountain, however, a younger igneous intrusion makes up the summit block. The forces of erosion of the millenia have left a precipitous cliff along much of the edge of Pine Peak's summit. Similar morphology (older lava flow intruded by rising magma) can be found on the other highest specimens within the range such as Mt. Livermore, Mescalero Mountain & Brooks Mountain.
One of the most interesting features of this mountain is the cleverly-named Pine Peak Lake. This tarn is most likely the highest body of standing water in the State of Texas, and even in dry years persists annually. Some fish have been seen living in this high bastion, but it isn't widely known if they occur natually or have been stocked.
Pine Peak Flora & FaunaThe Davis Mountains are widely known as a sky-island, helping to preserve a habitat for species which do not resider anywhere else in Texas. Since Pine Peak tends to have more forest cover than even the other summits in the area, it has many unique and beautiful specimens on its slopes.
Most visitors will approach the Davis Mountains from IH-10 coming from the west (El Paso) or the east (DFW and/or San Antonio):
- Exit IH-10 in the bustling hamlet of Kent, TX (Exit # 176)
- Drive south on TX-118 (roughly 32 mi) to the entrance of the Davis Mountains Preserve on the right (South). You will pass TX-166, a beautiful & scenic loop drive at ~20 mi. The entrance is barely noticeable when the Preserve is not open, and only marginally moreso on an open date. Look for a small sign low to the ground with some orange surveyor's tape tied to it. You'll drive over Beef Pasture Gap, a small saddle, just under a mile before the turn-off into the TNC property; if you reach the Madera Canyon Roadside Park (a few picnic tables), you've gone too far.
Others will approach the area from Fort Davis, TX:
- Drive approximately 20 mi west on TX-118 from Fort Davis, TX. You'll pass the Madera Canyon Roadside Park just before the entrance on the left (South). If you reach the TX-166 Scenic Loop turnoff, you've gone too far.
If all else fails, ask someone in Fort Davis for help / directions. Everyone I've met in the town is very friendly.
Pine Peak lies wholly on land owned by The Nature Conservancy of Texas. The Davis Mountain Preserve is only open to the public a few days / weekends per year, so please check the calendar on their website for details.
For information regarding the Davis Mountains Preserve, please contact Jason Wrinkle at [email protected] or (432) 837-5954.
(Last updated on 27 Jul 2009)
Please, no pets allowed at Preserve events.
- 2009 Davis Mountains Preserve Events
- October 24 (Day hiking): The Preserve is open for self-guided hiking, birding and picnicking from 8:00AM to 4:30PM. Reservations are not required. - Contact: Jason Wrinkle at [email protected] or (432) 837-5954.
- December 5 (Christmas Tree Hunt): Contact Jason Wrinkle for more information; [email protected] or (432) 837-5954.
- December 12 (Christmas Tree Hunt): Contact Jason Wrinkle for more information; [email protected] or (432) 837-5954.
Making the assumption that you're visiting on an Open Weekend, look no further than the Davis Mountains Preserve itself! Camping is usually free with plenty of tent / car / camper spots for the taking. If you're working on planning a trip, please contact Jason Wrinkle at [email protected] or (432) 837-5954.
There are also camping facilities located in Davis Mountains State Park for a nomial fee.
External LinksThe Nature Conservancy - Davis Mountain Preserve - Link
Davis Mountains State Park - Link