Hike Name: Tejas Trail
Area: Dog Canyon
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Distance: 6.4 miles round trip (Dog Canyon to Lost Peak)
Time Needed: 3-5 hours
Elevation Start: 6290 feet
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Best Time to Hike: Late fall through early spring
The Tejas Trail is one of the longest hikes in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It stretches for 11.8 miles between the Dog Canyon Campground at the northern end of the park all the way through the heart of the park down to the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
The full hike passes through just about every environment of the Guadalupe Mountains, including desert, pine forest, and grassy meadows.
Very few people complete the entire trail. Instead, we’re focusing on the section of the Tejas Trail between Dog Canyon and Lost Peak, a 7830-foot summit about three miles from the start of the trail.
Hiking the Tejas Trail
The trailhead for the northern end of the Tejas Trail is located at the Dog Canyon Campground. This is in the far northern section of the park.
It’s a long drive to get here from the rest of the park, because you have to exit the park, head north, loop all the way around Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, then go back south into Texas.
This part of the park usually isn’t very busy or crowded, so it’s a nice hike for folks looking for solitude.
You can start the southern end of the Tejas Trail at the Pine Springs Campground. But from there, it would be 8 miles to reach Lost Peak.
Trail Length and Difficulty
Completing this entire trail would be a 23.6-mile round-trip, which would be an ambitious undertaking. The portion from Dog Canyon to Lost Peak is 3.2 miles each way, making for a tidy 6.4-mile round-trip.
Backpackers who do want to hike the entire length of the Tejas Trail can take advantage of three backcountry campgrounds on the way – Mescalero Wilderness, Tejas, and Pine Top.
Best Time to Hike
The best time to hike the Tejas Trail is spring and fall, which provide the most comfortable temperatures. Summer is not ideal, because it’s usually so hot and sunny.
The hike is doable in winter if the weather cooperates, but be prepared for winds up to 30 miles per hour. It can snow here, so check the forecast in advance.
As this is a high-elevation ecosystem, dress in layers to be ready for both chilly and warm conditions, no matter what time of year you arrive.
Trail Description and Highlights
When starting from the Dog Canyon Campground, the Tejas Trail begins by meandering inside a forested canyon, going slowly upward through the grassy areas that are common in the northern section of the park.
As it rises, the trail follows an exposed ridge up to higher elevations. That’s where you’ll reach the Lost Peak Saddle. From there, you can see expansive views of the park to the west and south.
The summit of Lost Peak will be in view, but there’s no formal trail to the summit itself. Still, it’s possible to pick your way across the rocky ground to the summit. A rock pile stands at the summit to mark the spot.
Most folks will turn around at Lost Peak. If you continue south beyond Lost Peak, the trail drops a bit and enters more forested terrain after intersecting with McKittrick Canyon Trail.
Important Things To Know
Bring a lot of water and snacks, more than you think you’ll need. Especially if you’re continuing past Lost Peak!
Hikers are strongly advised to download a GPS map for the trail in advance on a site like AllTrails. You don’t want to get lost on this remote trail with few other hikers around.
Hikers on the Tejas Trail may encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and black bears, although these animals tend to keep their distance. Rattlesnakes can be found in all desert areas of the park.