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black Marufo Vega Trail

  4.5 ( 11 ) Favorite

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13.2 mile 21.2 kilometer loop
89% Runnable


Ascent: 2,315' 706 m
Descent: -2,316' -706 m
High: 2,819' 859 m
Low: 1,801' 549 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 47% (25°)


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Trail shared by Hunter R

A remarkable backcountry trail through stark desert terrain with stunning views of the Rio Grande.

Hunter R

Features River/Creek · Views

The waters of the Rio Grande are completely contaminated and undrinkable! No amount of purifying chemicals can make it potable.


While a longer route to tackle in a single day, this route provides some of the most rewarding views in the park. While initially you'll have some steep trail to navigate, you'll soon have enjoyable, plateau running ahead of you. Enjoy the views along the whole route, as even the trail portions that you visit twice are spectacular!


Begin the Marufo Vega Trail knowing that breathtaking panoramic views of the Sierra del Carmen mountains and the Rio Grande are waiting just a few miles up the trail. Knowing that, fill up your water bottles and embark on a true backcountry running adventure in Big Bend National Park.

Marufo Vega Trail is most commonly attempted as either a comfortable overnight, or rather strenuous single day expedition. If pursuing an overnight sounds more appealing to you, be sure to pick up a backcountry use permit from any of the Big Bend ranger stations. To learn more about backcountry use permits, see the here.
For more information regarding safe and enjoyable backcountry travel, see the NPS Guide to Backcountry Preparation and Safety.

Starting at the trailhead, follow the trail as it climbs along a rocky ridgeline to a plateau above. After reaching the plateau, follow the sometimes poorly marked trail north to the mouth of a clearly visible, large drainage. Ascend the drainage, handrailing a sandy wash off and on before coming to a moderate, switchbacking climb through another drainage. Continue climbing through the second drainage for roughly a third of a mile before reaching a fork in the trail. Head east (right) from the fork, continuing to gently climb as you round the corner to the sight of staggering limestone cliffs to the south.

Finally, you'll have reached the canyon rim and the awe-striking panoramic views it offers of the Sierra del Carmen to the northwest and the Rio Grande below. After taking in your surreal surroundings, begin a steep, 1000 vertical foot descent to a cliff overhanging the Rio Grande approximately 100 feet above the water.

Upon reaching the cliff a junction appears, at which point visitors have the option to either head right along the spur toward a silty beach on the banks of the Rio Grande, or head left to continue on the Marufo Vega Trail (heading northwest) along the clifftop. It is important to note for those traveling to the banks of the Rio Grande along the spur trail that the waters of the Rio Grande are completely contaminated and undrinkable! No amount of consumer-bought water purifying chemicals can neutralize the high levels of chemical contaminants flowing downstream, so again, do not drink it.

Traveling left from the junction along the clifftop, descend gently across typical arid terrain until reaching a section where the river points due north. At this point, look to the southwest for a large, easily recognizable drainage, leading visitors to the first junction.


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Jan 5, 2019
Blake Batchelor
January was the perfect time to run this! I'm not saying we did not cross the Rio Grande to Mexico just for a few... 14mi — 5h 30m

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes


  4.5 from 11 votes
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in Texas


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8,884 Since Sep 29, 2015
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Five Stars. Incredible day and run! The trail is rough and technical in parts. Plants, rocks, canyon vistas, desert vistas, a beach, and hanging out on the border of Mexico. We didn't see any mountain lions, but I did find a tarantula. This trail is and the South Rim Loop are my two favorite Big Bend runs. The Marufo Vega really felt like a more rugged South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The best time to go is definitely in the winter. Temps in the summer are unbearable and water/shade can be non-existent. Jan 12, 2019

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