Although Pine Peak
can be climbed from either the east-side or west-side, hikes originating from Madera Canyon (to the west) are most common. Either route would need to be coordinated with a Nature Conservancy open access date (see main page for access information). The hike is Class 1 almost all of the way, however, to make it up the summit a Class 2 bush-whack is required.
If hiking from the east, enter the Brown Mountain Gate to the Davis Mountains Preserve, after checking-in at the McIvor Visitor Center and receiving permission to hike from this approach. Please note that there is not much parking near the gate area off the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop.
If you plan on taking the more common Madera Canyon approach, make your way to the McIvor Visitor Center as explained in the "Getting There" section of the main Pine Peak page
Whichever approach you choose, the high and scenic TX-118 provides access to the Pine Peak vicinity. This road is well worth a few hours driving and admiring the views of the West Texas high-country!
The route described herein is from the Madera Canyon side of Pine Peak:
- Begin the hike anywhere along the Madera Canyon Road (MCR) between the McIvor Visitor Center and the road fork of MCR and Shoe Tank Road (STR). It's best to get an idea of the road conditions, including water crossings, when checking it at the front gate of the preserve. I was able to take a 2WD car on the Right Hand Road to its junction with MCR with no issues whatsoever.
- Turn hiker's left (NE) onto STR, and hike 1.1 mi up to the junction with the 48 Tank Road. Please note that the signage for STR will occasionally say "48 Tank Loop".
- Go hiker's right (E) onto Shoe-to-Pine Road (S2PR). There is a wire gate here restricting vehicle access.
- Continue hiking 1.3 mi up S2PR until you reach the junction with Basecamp Road in a broad saddle. Keep straight on S2PR.
- Reach Pine Peak Lake (the summit will now be to hiker's right), and continue hiking about a hundred yards past the east edge of the lake. Look sharply for a small cairn of dark red rocks on the south side of the trail.
- At the cairn, begin climbing up the slope to your south along a faint, switch-backing trail. There are numerous game trails in the area, so try to stick with whatever you deem the best path up to the ridge. If possible, please limit the off-trail hiking in order to preserve the high Texas flora.
- After reaching the ridge, contour back east toward the summit of Pine Peak. There is a rugged false summit along the way that can be bypassed to the north side of the ridge; the rock on this bump is VERY loose, so if you choose to climb up, be careful.
- Continue following any game trails on the ridge up to the summit of Pine Peak. The easiest going tends to be on the north side of the ridge, though, the game trails will peter out just below the summit area. There are some precipitous cliffs on top, so watch you step and enjoy the views!
- Disassembly is reverse of the above.
The primary thing to bring is lots of water; the air is very dry and you will dehydrate much faster than you expect. On a brief hike up Pine Peak, I drank 6L of water and still came down somewhat thirsty. Trekking poles, sturdy shoes, map and compass are also very useful. Although, I didn't need them, gaiters could help keep seeds and stones out of your shoes on the upper reaches of the hike.
The Nature Conservancy - Davis Mountain Preserve - Link