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Discovering America: Devil’s Hall Track – Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: Devil’s Hall Track
  • Where: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  • Distance: 4.2 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • More Info: Guadalupe Mountain NP Website

devils hall trail2

Narrative

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the most isolated of America’s national parks in the continental United States.  This is largely caused by its isolation from large population centers with El Paso, Texas being the only large city near the park and it is about a two hour drive away.  This causes the park to have relatively few visitors compared to many other national parks in the country.  The Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso has far more visitors when I visit that park compared to the Guadalupe Mountains, which are far more scenic.

This is only because of ease of access to the Franklins compared to the Guadalupes that causes more people to visit those mountains.  However, the lack of visitors to the Guadalupes kind of gives it a “best kept secret” vibe whenever I visit this park because I will go hiking and see absolutely no one on the trail despite being surrounded by spectacular scenery.  Really the only trail in the park where you are guaranteed to see someone is on the trail that takes hikers to the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak that towers over the surrounding desert at a height of 8,749 feet (2,667 m).

Another hike I took recently in this gem of a national park was the 4.2 mile round-trip hike up into a rocky canyon known as the Devil’s Hall:

devils hall trail1

The hike begins at the Pine Springs Campground, which is really the only place to stay near the park because as I mentioned before, this park is so isolated there is no near by town with a hotel to stay at it.  The trailhead to the Devil’s Hall Trail is also the start point for a number of other trails in the park:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

As I walked up the trail the cragged peaks to my north were an impressive site:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

To my south were the lower slopes of Guadalupe Peak:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

The trail initially follows a wide ravine that has probably seen some impressive flash floods before considering the number of large boulder I saw in it:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Besides boulders the ravine was also filled with a number of trees that have found enough moisture in the soil of the ravine to survive in this harsh high desert climate:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

The Devil’s Hall Trail doesn’t have much of an elevation gain, but there is one point where hikers have to a bit of climbing over a small hill:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Along the way I always took a second to admire the bright red colors of the Texas madrone trees:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Here is the view looking deep into the valley I was heading up:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Here is the view looking back towards the head of the valley:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Eventually the trail drops into the ravine itself:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

At this point the ravine/trail becomes pretty rugged at some points as it twists its way deeper and deeper into the canyon:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

There is another minor ascent at this point of the hike, but it was not too strenuous:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

All along the trail evidence of water smoothly carving the walls of the canyon was evident:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

As I looked up into the higher elevations of the mountains the thick cloak of ponderosa pines could be seen growing up there as well:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Eventually as I headed deeper into the canyon the rock formation known as the Devil’s Gate came into view:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

This rock formation is pretty amazing because it just appears some giant took a hammer and knocked out the middle of the rock formation:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Oddly enough it felt like I was approaching the gates of hell because of the wind blowing down the canyon feeling like a hot air vent due to the 100+F temperatures I was hiking in.  Despite the heat I pushed on and the trail lead right up to this hole in the rock formation, which features many unusually carved rocks:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Between the Devil’s Gate is what is known as the Hiker’s Staircase:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

This staircase was carved over the centuries by the flash floods that come down this canyon.  When I walked up to it there was a bunch of lizards lounging in shady portion of the staircase and the quickly scattered when I walked up:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

Above the staircase is the Devil’s Hall which feels like an open air amphitheater surrounded by soaring rock formations of unusual shapes:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

The amphitheater even had seating for people to watch performances:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

The Devil’s Hall Trail ends shortly after the amphitheater with a sign that says the trail ends.  From there is just a reverse walk back through the Devil’s Gate and back down through the ravine and on to the parking lot:

Picture from Devil's Hall Trail

The unusual rock formations and views of the soaring peaks of the Guadalupes makes this a great hike for anyone looking for a moderate level hike to check out when visiting the park.  Just make sure if attempting the hike in the summer time to be prepared for soaring temperatures.  Sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water is a must.  If you don’t bring these essential items you may really feel like you are entering the gates of hell once you hit the Devil’s Gate.

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