Madera Canyon

Page Type
Texas, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking, minor rock scramble.
Time Required:
Most of a day
class 1, minor scramble near top.

Route Quality: 0 Votes

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Created On: Aug 28, 2003
Last Edited On: Nov 10, 2004


After making arrangements with TNC in Fort Davis, you will be 'escorted' much of the way from the ranch complex deep into the forests and hills. This may be negotiable... but the most likely scenario is they will drive you approximately 7 miles west into Madera Canyon to a saddle called Bridge Gap, about 1 air-mile to the northeast of the summit. It is a rough 4wd road with numerous stream crossings. Should you get to go alone or in a small group, you may have to supply the vehicle... and only good 4wd with high clearance will do. The hike starts at Bridge Gap.

Route Description

The hike to the summit follows the continuation of the road, which is not shown on the topo. It is quite steep and generally very rocky, but route-finding is trivial. The road generally hugs the north-facing slopes and contours up and around some small knobs. It levels for a short stretch, then curls counter-clockwise around the summit fin, eventually 'ending' at the base of a short scree slope on the peak's west face.

Walk carefully up the scree section, and achieve the base of the main summit body pretty much on its westernmost portion. The final 40 vertical feet requires hands in a few places, and a couple of very short, moderately exposed scramble sections. Most people won't have any trouble, but on my trip, as part of a group numbering 20+, one or two people got spooked at this section.

The summit is long and narrow, with a peculiar pit dug into it. Apparently it once held numerous arrowhead and shards thereof, and was a traditional holy site for the local indigenous peoples from way back. Today, the summit contains the usual collection of repeater boxes and other communications devices used by the sheriff and border patrol.

One way is about 1.5 miles of hiking and just over 1,000 feet of gain. Because of the extra arrangements you'll likely need to make to do this hike, and because you may be part of a large party, you should allow most of a morning to do this. The actual hike (for me) took just over an hour of actual hiking time, but almost 3 hours including the stops for breaks, views and talks by the guides. But I hardly complain: they do a quality job all the way around and I had a great time.

Essential Gear

Just good boots, hat, water, snacks, food, camera...

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Linejudge - Apr 19, 2005 12:27 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

The TNC now lets you go in unescorted on "open days". They no longer allow you to drive to Bridge Gap you have to park on the Madera Canyon road just before the Bridge Gap road turnoff. This adds about 1.8 miles to the hike.

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