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Guadalupe Ridge Trail (GRT)

Challenge yourself and experience the extreme hiking trek of the full 100 miles through the newly designated Guadalupe Ridge trail (GRT) which in places can include equestrian and stock, motorized vehicles, and bikes. The trail traverses the rocky peaks of the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak (8,751’), to the challenging mountainous landscape of the New Mexico Chihuahuan Desert.

photo: Hiker along McKittrick Canyon along the GRT

Length: 100.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: National Park Service
Entry Fee? $5.00
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (off pavement)
Camping
Equestrian - Riding
Equestrian - Pack trips
Equestrian - Other stock
Heritage and History
Motorized vehicles - ATV riding
Motorized vehicles - Four wheel drive
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Wildlife Observation

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Location: The trail is located between Guadalupe Peak, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the boundary of Carlsbad Caverns National Park at White’s City, NM and passes through Bureau of Land Management and Lincoln National Forest property.
State(s): Texas, New Mexico
Counties: Hudspeth, Texas, Eddy, New Mexico
Longitude: -104.860454
Latitude: 31.891358

Driving Directions

From Carlsbad, New Mexico, drive 55 miles south to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitor Center. From El Paso, Texas, drive 115 miles north to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitor Center. The trail starts at Guadalupe Peak, and ends at the boundary of Carlsbad Caverns National Park just west of White’s City, NM.

Description

Guadalupe Ridge Trail: An Extreme Trail Experience.

Challenge yourself and experience the extreme hiking trek of the full 100 miles through the newly designated Guadalupe Ridge trail (GRT) which in places can include equestrian and stock, motorized vehicles, and bikes. Thru-hiking takes more than a week to complete with limited resources. Or take a one, two or three-day excursion for a multiday backpacking trip. The trail traverses the rocky peaks of the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak (8,751’), to the challenging mountainous landscape of the New Mexico Chihuahuan Desert.

The trail starts in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, at the highest point in Texas which is Guadalupe Peak (8751 feet). Some sections of the trail in the Guadalupe Mountains climb and dip over a 60% solid rock grade and are very rugged terrain. Almost 40% of the main trail is double track; 60% is single track when including the Sitting Bull Falls segment of the trail. The trail travels through Chihuahuan desert, mixed coniferous forest, and riparian woodlands before exiting the national park to the Lincoln National Forest. The national forest has mixed coniferous forest along with spectacular rocky canyons. An optional loop will take trekkers through Last Chance Canyon and Sitting Bull Falls, a desert oasis with a series of small waterfalls and pools. The trail continues through Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Bureau of Land Management property with stunning views of the rugged and unforgiving Guadalupe Ridge. Trekkers can stop through the Caverns Visitor Center before dropping into White’s City, New Mexico and the end of the Guadalupe Ridge Trail.

Additional Details

Width: 18 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted
Secondary Surface: Rock, boulders
Soil, compacted

Average Grade: 20%
Maximum Grade: 60%
Elevation Low Point: 3,647
Elevation High Point: 8,751
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:
2018

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Guadalupe Ridge Trail (GRT)

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Information Contact:
Robin Koch
Acting Recreation Program Manager
Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service
5203 Buena Vista Drive
Carlsbad, NM 88220
(575) 885-4181
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Eric Brunnemann
Superintendent
Department of the Interior, National Park Service
400 Pine Canyon Drive
Salt Flat, TX 79847
(915) 828-3251
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Douglas Neighbor
Superintendent
Department of the Interior, National Park Service
3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220
(575) 785-2232
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Robin Koch
Acting Recreation Program Manager
Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service
5203 Buena Vista Dr.
Carlsbad, NM 88220
(575) 885-4181
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Jim Stovall
BLM - New Mexico Pecos District Manager
Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
620 E. Greene Street
Carlsbad, NM 88220
(575) 234-5972
[email protected]

Information Contact:
Elizabeth Jackson
Public Information Officer
National Park Service
400 Pine Canyon Drive
Salt Flat, TX 79847
(915) 828-3251 x2300
[email protected]

Information Contact:
Tracy Hughes
Outdoor Recreation Planner
Bureau of Land Management
620 E Greene Street
Carlsbad, NM 88220
(575) 234-5992
[email protected]

 

Photos

View of Guadalupe Ridge Trail as hikers near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. This is an excellent opportunity for hikers to stop in to visit the Caverns, use restroom facilities, dine at the park cafeteria, and use watering stations.
Credit:

View of Guadalupe Ridge Trail as hikers near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. This is an excellent opportunity for hikers to stop in to visit the Caverns, use restroom facilities, dine at the park cafeteria, and use watering stations. Credit:

Guadalupe Ridge Trail as it passes through McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.
Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

Guadalupe Ridge Trail as it passes through McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

 

View along Guadalupe Ridge Trail in McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.  
Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

View along Guadalupe Ridge Trail in McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

View of Lincoln National Forest from the Guadalupe Ridge Trail, New Mexico.
Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

View of Lincoln National Forest from the Guadalupe Ridge Trail, New Mexico. Credit: High Pointers Foundation and Colorado Mountain Club

 

Looking south into Cave Canyon in the Lincoln National Forest. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Looking south into Cave Canyon in the Lincoln National Forest. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Looking into Texas from just north of the TX/NM border. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Looking into Texas from just north of the TX/NM border. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

Franks Canyon dominates the foreground while the high Guads appear along the horizon. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Franks Canyon dominates the foreground while the high Guads appear along the horizon. Photo by Todd Shelley.

View from the top of the Permian Reef Trail at GUMO. Photo by Todd Shelley.

View from the top of the Permian Reef Trail at GUMO. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

The GRT is an old double track where it meets the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. Photo by Todd Shelley.

The GRT is an old double track where it meets the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Texas Horned Lizard along the edge of McKittrick Canyon. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Texas Horned Lizard along the edge of McKittrick Canyon. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

View into The Bowl at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Photo by Todd Shelley.

View into The Bowl at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Slaughter Canyon spills out into the Chihuahuan desert. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Slaughter Canyon spills out into the Chihuahuan desert. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

Sweeping views into North McKittrick Canyon from within Lincoln National Forest. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Sweeping views into North McKittrick Canyon from within Lincoln National Forest. Photo by Todd Shelley.

There is little signage in the Carlsbad Caverns backcountry so map reading and route finding skills are a must. Photo by Todd Shelley.

There is little signage in the Carlsbad Caverns backcountry so map reading and route finding skills are a must. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

The Notch within South McKittrick Canyon is awe inspiring. Photo by Todd Shelley.

The Notch within South McKittrick Canyon is awe inspiring. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Looking down to the McKittrick Canyon Trail from high above along Wilderness Ridge. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Looking down to the McKittrick Canyon Trail from high above along Wilderness Ridge. Photo by Todd Shelley.

 

The Fawn Valley Overlook within Carlsbad Caverns National Park gives sweeping views to the north. Photo by Todd Shelley.

The Fawn Valley Overlook within Carlsbad Caverns National Park gives sweeping views to the north. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Humble beginnings of the GRT as the trail leaves Whites City. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Humble beginnings of the GRT as the trail leaves Whites City. Photo by Todd Shelley.

Reviews

The Long Route to the Top of Texas

Thru-hiked the GRT starting at Carlsbad Caverns, skipping the road walk along Walnut Canyon Desert Drive and the climb to the CAVE Visitor Center from Whites City. The trial was very faint in places throughout CAVE, but navigation was easily accomplished by following navigation cairns spaced adequately along the trail. Water is the biggest challenge of the hike and we cached at the Cave Canyon Trailhead, Dark Canyon Lookout Tower and at the end of FS540. The entire trip was filled with sweeping vistas and vast views. Of particular note were the views into Slaughter Canyon in New Mexico and McKittrick Canyon in Texas. We saw zero other hikers along the trail until we reached the Pine Spring Visitor Center in GUMO (on free entry day of all times). Then we met at least 100 other hikers climbing the Peak.
My hiking partner Cameron documented the trip and posted it to YouTube.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGN_qREciD5NcxMiWVwRleGcTuEh_G50R

October 27, 2020

 

 

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