There are some loose cobbles here and there, but mostly a well traveled and packed down trail.
This trail climbs to the base of Emory Peak. It starts near the Chisos Basin ranger station and climbs to a point in between Emory Peak and Toll Mountain. The trail terminates on the Chisos Mountain ridgeline at a junction with the Emory Peak Trail
. From there, the trail turns southwest and turns into the Boot Spring Trail which continues southeast towards the South Rim.
The trail begins at the western edge of the Chisos Basin Visitor Center parking lot. It is well marked with signs that are very easy to follow. It shares a start with the Laguna Meadow Trail
for a little less than a quarter mile. It splits left from the Laguna Meadow Trail
and heads southeast. The split is very well marked.
After the split, the trail is easy to follow. It goes up along the southwest wall of the Chisos Basin. You'll pass a number of little spurs that lead to designated campsites. The main trail is very distinct from the spurs. The entire trail is uphill, though half way up it flattens out for a little bit. Here you'll walk through a beautiful meadow with a stunning rock face to the southeast. Turn around and you'll get a breathtaking view of the Chisos Basin and the desert to the north beyond the Chisos Range.
There are a number of switchbacks beyond the halfway point, and the trail really starts to gain elevation. The surroundings begin to change along with the gain in elevation. Where the bottom was dry, the top of the trail is lush with trees and shrubs.
The Pinnacles Trail ends when you get up to the top of the ridge. Here you'll find a permanent bathroom and two bear boxes. This enables one to store any extra stuff for a venture up to Emory Peak.
Continue down the Boot Spring Trail to get to the South Rim, or turn around and follow the Pinnacles Trail back to the ranger station.
In December, one may be lucky enough to catch the native desert plants in bloom. It is quite stunning.