Tuff Canyon Trail
ElevationAscent: 64' 20 m
Descent: -64' -20 m
High: 2,381' 726 m
Low: 2,317' 706 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 10% (6°)
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“A short out-and-back jaunt into the volcanic rock cliffs of Tuff Canyon.”— Hunter R
Formed from the accumulation and consolidation of volcanic ash after an eruption, tuffs are everywhere in Big Bend. In this particular spot, erosion from a seasonal stream has cut a canyon through which visitors can climb down into and view for themselves the layers of volcanic ash and debris emplaced in the canyon walls.
To experience the canyon floor firsthand, head west from the overlooks along the trail, eventually reaching the Tuff Canyon Access Trail. Travel down a lower-graded slope to the wash below before heading east through the canyon to the trail's end.
Be sure to bring water with you along the trail, as Big Bend's arid climate can quickly dehydrate even the most seasoned runner.
Above this layer, look for the lighter-colored, younger pyroclastic deposits, that are dated to around 29 million years old. These are the products of violent, volcanic events that showered particles down from explosions and where Tuff Canyon got its name.
Tuff is a rock that has been mostly formed from hardened ash. In this case, the name is misleading because much of the rock in this canyon was formed from volcanic particles that were bigger than ash so the rock is not technically tuff but pumice.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes
Land Manager: NPS - Big Bend National Park