Ernst Tinaja

Big Bend National Park, Texas 79834

Distance0.4mi
Elevation Gain56ft
Trailhead Elevation2,145ft
Top2,169ft
Elevation Min/Max2145/2169ft
Elevation Start/End2145/2145ft

Ernst Tinaja

Ernst Tinaja is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Brewster County, Texas. It is within Big Bend National Park. It is 0.4 miles long and begins at 2,145 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 0.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 56 feet. This trail connects with the following: Old Ore Road.

Ernst Tinaja Professional Reviews and Guides

"Ernst Tinaja is one of the most intriguing yearround sources of fresh water in the park. While the trail is relatively short and straightforward, the drive to the trailhead is long, bumpy, and requires a good vehicle with high clearance.

Check at the ranger station in Panther Junction for road conditions. As you meander up the dry arroyo to Ernst Tinaja, you’ll encounter a lesson in Big Bend geology. The arroyo becomes progressively deeper, thus exposing older and older layers of rock."

"Ernst Tinaja is reached by simply walking up the dry wash for about 0.5 mile. The word tinaja (pronounced ti-NA-ha) is Spanish for “large earthen jar” and refers to a basin-shaped water hole, usually carved into bedrock by natural erosion.

These water holes are important sources of water in the canyons and rocky terrain of the Chihuahuan Desert. Insects, birds, snakes, frogs, deer, mountain lions, bears, and other creatures all depend on water sources like Ernst Tinaja for survival. Because of that, be careful never to contaminate any water source with soap, sunscreen, or other pollutants."

Ernst Tinaja Reviews

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7/25/2010
This is an easy hike. I was unable to continue to Ernst Tinaja due to boulders and the fact that I was carrying a ridiculous amount of camera gear. The drive to the trailhead is rough. I came in from the south which is the shorter distance. The park service sign says 4WD recommended. If you come from the north I would say that 4WD is almost a must have. High clearance is definitely a must have.
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2/24/2004
This trail starts on the Old Ore Road, a long 4WD gravel trail that runs almost the length of the park. It's a great drive that can take all day or all week depending on your mood. In the area of the trailhead the road is at its worse, with numerous potholes that can turn into tire swallowing mud holes if it's been rainy. Once on the trail, though, the going is easy on foot, with the approach to the canyon paved with sorted gravels. The big tinaja is cut vertically into bedrock, and is virtually always filled with water of a turquoise hue, making for a nice contrast against the pinks of the canyon wall and the white of the canyon floor. In early May it was sweltering, but bearable, especially since it's only a short hike if you're just going to the tinaja. The canyon walls have numerous examples of extreme rock deformation, unlike any I have seen. Depending on the season you can have this trail to yourself, although it's more popular than Dog Canyon or Devil's Den.
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1/6/2003
This is the perfect trail for beginners and small children. I took my wife and my 4 year old daughter and we had a great time. The walls of the canyon resemble taffy candy, bent in ways that are mind boggling. It is beautiful from the beginning to the watering holes. I would also recommend taking this hike with atleast another person with you, because those rocks are very smooth and use extreme caution around the water. There will be a lot of shade since it is a canyon, meaning that there will only be a couple of hours where the sun is really shining straight down, so bring an extra shirt during January, no matter how warm it might be elsewhere.
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11/4/2001
I would say the hardest thing about this trail is getting there. Once my Father and I got to the trailhead we made the easy hike to Ernst Tinaja in under an hour, with many stops to take pictures and enjoy to scenery. The entire hike is thought a dry, mostly flat, gravel creek bed, which cuts though the mountain. We even met a guy on crutches whom claimed the hike was easy. The geology in this canyon is fantastic but due to the drought we have been in over the past years, only two pools still had water. It is a must see if you are ever in the park.
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3/15/2001
I would agree with Matt, the drive in is by far the toughest part of the trip. The rock formations at the first tinaja are incredible. The twisted, contorted sculpturing shows the movement of the earth over long periods of time. It's like a mountain that someone has wadded up like a piece of paper. If you are able to make it around the second pool, a little further on, the canyon begins to widen as it turns due north into a wide valley. Getting around the second pool is tough and should not be attempted alone. If you slip in the water, you're gonna want someone to pull you out! But the scenery is worth the effort. The sun travels overhead at a perpendicular angle to the canyon in the summer, but evening on a clear day makes the lower canyon walls come alive with reds, pinks and soft earthtones. This canyon is a photographers buffet for B&W or color! Take a couple of rolls of film, you'll be glad you did.
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Ernst Tinaja Photos

Trail Information

Big Bend National Park
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Big Bend National Park
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Big Bend National Park
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Activity Feed

Oct 2018