“No sunrise at sea or from the mountain’s summit could equal in grandeur that which we now beheld, when the first rays struck the snow-clad mountain” – John R. Bartlett, Guadalupe Mountains, 1854

 

While on a family vacation, about ten years ago, we stopped with our sons for a short hike at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Nothing more than a side trip from Carlsbad Caverns. We hiked the McKittrick Canyon area all the time knowing that one-day we would be back for the peak.

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On our way back to Austin we could hear the peak whispering to us so we decided to take a detour and finish what we started a decade earlier.

We camped in the park at the Pine Springs campground that is nothing more than a parking lot at the end of the road. The price was right and the view of the mountains was marvelous so we pulled in and parked ourselves right next to the trailhead.

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Before the evening was over we had checked out the visitor center and planned the details of the hike.

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Early the next morning we set out for Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest natural point in the State of Texas with an elevation of 8,751 feet. The 8.4-mile hike is very steep and rocky with a set of switchbacks, cliff exposures, and a pretty grueling elevation gain of 3,000 feet.

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The steepest part of the hike is in the first 1.5-miles and luckily the higher elevation leads to larger trees that supplied us with much welcomed shade from the hot Texas sun.

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Fall colors were on full display. And the views oh wow!

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When we started the hike, the Google car was parked at the trailhead and we were curious if we would find the driver on the trail. We hoped our paths might cross and we did find him, with a park ranger, at the peak carrying forty pounds of gear! Interested, we learned that the cameras snap every three seconds as he hikes to produce what you see on Google Earth. Wouldn’t that be a cool job? Well aside from toting all dat gear!

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A monument commemorating overland stage and air travel marks the summit.

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On the top of Texas we marveled at the views and added our names to the Guadalupe Peak register for posterity.

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Up Next: Carlsbad Caverns National Park