The Lost Mine Trail is one of the first things you will pass driving up the Chisos Basin Road from the desert to the mountains in Big Bend National Park. At 4.8 miles round trip and 1135 feet in elevation change, Lost Mine Trail is a moderately difficult trail but despite that it is one of the most popular trails in Big Bend. The parking lot is very small for how much traffic the trail gets and by noon cars are parked all along the side of the road near the trailhead. So if you want to get a good parking spot, I recommend starting this trail early. We woke up at the Rio Grande Village Campground before sunrise and meandered our way up the 25 mile road to the Chisos Basin (stopping at scenic views and roadside exhibits along the way) and arrived at the trailhead on a slightly overcast Thursday morning. Just before reaching the parking lot, a large mule deer crossed the road right in front of our car. We hopped out of the car, grabbed our backpacks, and excitedly hit the trail for our first hike in the Chisos Basin. The trail begins with long stretches of trail going slightly upward before switching back on itself. Within 5 minutes of hiking, the same mule deer crossed in front of us again on the trail and carried on up into the trees. This part of the trail is very cool because it shows of the diversity of Big Bend’s plant life. There are pines, junipers, and fir trees growing alongside prickly pear cactus and agave as well as wildflowers that I’m sure bloom beautifully in the spring.
Desert and Mountain plants growing alongside one another
After this the trail heads east past the pine canyon before steadily climbing upwards via many switchbacks (this is where most of the elevation change is). The whole hike grows increasingly beautiful as you keep going and every time I stopped to look at the canyons below I was amazed of how the view just kept getting better and better. Once you are about 30 minutes from the top there is a huge rock that lots of people were taking pictures underneath. Pretty soon after that the trail straightens up towards it’s peak. This part of the trail reminded me of Angel’s Landing in Zion the way the trail went across the large rock spine but this trail was much wider than Angel’s Landing. We soon reached the rocky end of the trail and sat down to relax and look at the views around us. After this we descended the trail back to our car, excited for the next hike and well pleased with this one. When in Big Bend this hike is a must do and is worth the effort to reach the top. Also I didn’t find the lost mine so let me know if you do
Thanks for reading. – Josh
Evolution of the trail’s view looking towards the Chisos Basin