Rancherías Canyon Trail

Presidio, Texas 79846

Rancherías Canyon Trail

Rancherías Canyon Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Waterfalls in the desert? Surprisingly, they occur more often than most people realize. But getting to them can be a bit tricky. Success in tackling the 9.6-mile round-trip day hike into Rancherías Canyon, one of the many remarkable features of Big Bend Ranch State Park, will reward hikers with a picnic in the cool environs of a desert pour-off.

But be prepared. No matter how many times a week you do that Pilates workout, the trek may take you a full day to accomplish. What at first appears to be a straightforward hike along a gravelly drainage becomes a twisting rock-hop before you finally arrive, hours later, at a series of boulder scrambles."

More Rancherías Canyon Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Big Bend National Park (Falcon Guides)
Laurence Parent
View more trails from this guide book
"Rancherías Canyon is a deep and wide canyon cutting through ancient lava flows in the southern Bofecillos Mountains. The hike terminates at a box canyon at Rancherías Falls, a beautiful seasonal waterfall approximately 80 feet high. The trailhead starts at the parking area and follows a footpath along a dry creek drainage until it joins an old wagon road. After a short distance the road forks. Hikers wishing to hike Rancherías Canyon will take the right fork; the left fork is part of the Rancherías Loop Trail. The right fork drops down to the floor of Rancherías Canyon. From there the watercourse is followed upstream through the canyon all the way to the end at the box canyon. If floods haven’t washed them away, rock cairns mark the way from the trailhead to the falls." Read more

Rancherías Canyon Trail Reviews

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Some of the guys in our Boy Scout Troop, Troop 118 out of La Vernia, Texas, hiked this trail. We uploaded some pictures here in our photo album:

Now, before you go on this trail, plan on a mandatory 30 minute orientation at the Barton Warnock Education center in Lajitas. This is new, but they won't issue you a hiking or back-country camping permit until you do it. They are planning to have it on DVD slideshow in the near future, but for right now, they have the slides printed in a binder that you must read. And the center doesn't open until 8am, so if you want to get an early start on the trail I would suggest that you do the orientation, pay for your back-country camping and get your permit the day before you actually want to hike. Otherwise, you get a late start.

We started at the East trailhead, and looped around to the West trailhead. We left at 10am on a Tuesday (after orientaton at Barton Warnock Education Center), and finished the trail at 4pm on Thursday. This was with 2 adults in their 40's and 3 youth ages 15-16.

Fortunaely for us the springs at Reza homestead and Rancherias were active and we didn't have to trek in an additional 24 pounds of water in addition to how heavy our packs were (50-60 lbs.)

There was a part of the trail that had been washed out and our footing was no more than 4 inches wide, (a literal foot's width, which we reported to the TPWD), but other than that the trail was awesome. The first day's hike was the day that was the most difficult, mainly because of the line of ascent. I think we went up a good 1500 feet in a mile or so.

We all had a great time, and enjoyed the hike immensely. The views were spectacular, sunsets and sunrises gorgeous. Our only regret was that we didn't see more wildlife along the trail. Saw plenty of evidence, scat, etc. - but not very much living breathing animals.

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What we saw of this trail was amazing. We started at the Eastern trailhead and got about 5-7 miles in before taking a wrong turn into Panther Canyon. Unfortunately we had to hike out on the second morning due to lack of water. The terrain was very strenuous and navigation was extremely difficult. Lots of water and better maps than we had are a must. Walking/climbing up dry drainages and many thorns in the shins are common. It sure taught an unsuspecting mid-westerner respect for the desert! We are going back 03/2003, so I will post more then.

Rancherías Canyon Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
5 hours
Best in Spring
2,500 feet
Trailhead Elevation
3,500 feet
Top Elevation
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Agua Adentro Mountain, Redford SE Quadrangle
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018