I recently and reluctantly, made the trek to Big Bend from San Antonio. I was thinking “how much fun can hiking in the desert be?” Well, I was totally wrong. The Big Bend offers some of the most spectacular hiking opportunities I’ve ever seen. The desert is not an empty, dead and lifeless body of earth, it’s beautiful and full of life at every turn.
However, it is the desert, so there are a few things you should know before you go. Not being prepared can be very dangerous and at the very least uncomfortable. So get prepared and hopefully these tips will come in handily.
Map it Out
First, map out your hike, clearly. Have topography maps and a compass and know how to use them. Plan your route thoroughly. Be sure to carry a GPS and even a more traditional compass, just in case.
The Right Equipment
No matter whether you are planning a day hike or overnight camping trip, be sure you have the right equipment. A good start lies in getting the proper foot wear. Read about different hiking boots and shoes. Reviews come in handily when looking for the right hiking equipment, especially when it comes to Big Bend hiking. Remember it is Texas, so no matter what time of year you decide to go, the weather can change. Be prepared for these changes by taking both warm and cool weather clothing.
How Much Food and Water Do You Take?
Most importantly you need to stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb is, for a full days hike, a gallon of water per adult is good. Food and snacks are also important. Consider taking protein bars and trail snacks. These don’t take up a lot of room and give you enough energy for the hike. If camping overnight,plan your meal service carefully. You don’t want to make your supplies a burden, pack as light as possible and divide the weight between your friends.
Remember to take an adequate first aid kit. Rattlesnakes are common in summer. Wear tough clothing and carry a flashlight after dark. Also there are cactus and all kinds of prickly bushes and shrubs. Band-aids and antibiotic creams are a must. Carry tweezers in your first aid kit, for pulling thorns.
Rain gear and heavier clothing a must, it can get chilly at night and rain comes suddenly.
Easy Hiking in the Big Bend
Despite the name Big Bend, the hiking trips are relatively easy, ranging from 50 ft., to 33 miles.
There are guides that you can hire or you may go it alone, remember to let someone aware of your route.
The following are some guidelines that you need to make yourself aware of.
Hiking is fun but you have to make sure you meet all of the requirements. Be sure you carry all permits and meet all park regulations.
1. Big Bend does require permits for overnight hikes.
2. Be careful with campfires. These are highly restricted. Check with the park Ranger to make sure you meet current regulations.
3. Don’t leave any of your trash behind.
4. Avoid smoking on the hiking paths.
5. Cars are only allowed on designated roads.
6. Pets are not permitted on the trails or anywhere in the backcountry.
7. Avoid using soap in springs or streams.
8. Horseback riders need to check in at the park offices for special regulations
For Your Safety:
1. Do not rely on finding water in the Big Bend park. Always carry adequate water.
Off Trail Routes
There are lots of vast areas in the Big Bend, and some are areas where few hikers go, even though there seem to be old roads or trails that lead around them. These were trails used in the late 1800s. If you do take these hikes be sure to map it out and use your compass.
There are a number of canyons, arroyos, expanses and open desert in the Big Bend, and that means lots of places to explore, but just be careful and check with Park Headquarters before taking on an unexplored route.
I hope this information will help you when going and planning your trip to beautiful Big Bend!