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Permian Reef Geology Trail



4.8 mile 7.7 kilometer point to point
79% Runnable


Ascent: 2,165' 660 m
Descent: -195' -59 m
High: 7,046' 2,148 m
Low: 4,994' 1,522 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Liz with improvements by Todd Shelley

This is a great trail that represents the unique geologic history of the area.


Features Views

No overnight parking at McKittrick Canyon Trail without free permit.


This is a great one for all the geologists out there! Before heading out, make sure you stop in at the park's Headquarters Visitor Center and pick up a comprehensive geology guide. There are top markers along this trail that can be used with the guide that will tell you about the unique geology of the Permian Reef. There are 30 stops along this trail and the guide is not for the faint of heart. However, even if you aren't a geology buff, you can still enjoy the unique scenery and excellent views into McKittrick Canyon.

This trail starts at the McKittrick Canyon Visitor Center and heads north crossing a wide wash. Just after the wash, McKittrick Canyon - Permian Reef Connector will connect from the left. As you continue on, the trail begins to head uphill, passing the Geology Loop Trail before long (it's a nice alternative if you're following the guide).

The trail steepens a bit as you climb the ridge. There are a few switchbacks that help make the grade more manageable. After about three miles of climbing, the trail levels off and winds along the ridge top. Enjoy the excellent views of the McKittrick Canyon as you continue on.

You'll pass Camp Wilderness at about mile four and the trail ends at the park boundary. If you continue on from here, you enter the Lincoln National Forest - the trail becomes the Camp Wilderness Ridge #45 trail.

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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes


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Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes


  4.3 from 3 votes
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in Texas


34 Views Last Month
732 Since Mar 13, 2018



Panorama of McKittrick Canyon, viewed from west of Wilderness Ridge Backcountry Camp. My new favorite spot at GUMO.
Sep 17, 2018 near Pine Sp…, TX
The view into McKittrick Canyon, just west of Wilderness Ridge Backcountry Camp
Sep 17, 2018 near Pine Sp…, TX
Northbound on the Permian Reef Trail, about half a mile from the visitor center
Sep 17, 2018 near Pine Sp…, TX
Texas/New Mexico border of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Sep 17, 2018 near Pine Sp…, TX
Starting point at the Visitor Center.
Mar 9, 2016 near Pine Sp…, TX
McKittrick Canyon Trailhead.
Dec 15, 2016 near Pine Sp…, TX


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