Backpacking in Texas: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in Texas: a hiker enjoying themselves on a Texas trail, at a vista point

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Texas offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the diverse and breathtaking landscapes of the “Lone Star State.”

From the rugged peaks of the Guadalupe Mountains to the lush green forests of East Texas, and the arid deserts of the Big Bend region, Texas offers a wealth of backpacking adventures for every level of hiker.

In this guide, we’ll share essential tips and the TOP 5 multi-day trails to tackle in Texas. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker seeking new challenges or a newcomer eager to explore the great outdoors, the Lone Star State has something to captivate every nature enthusiast.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Texas

  • What to expect: Expect diverse terrain from mountains in the west to forests in the east. Plan for very hot summers and limited water sources in many areas. Trails can range from maintained to primitive. Be prepared for challenging weather that may turn hot, cold, wet or windy.
  • Essential gear: Key backpacking gear to bring for Texas includes a water filter or purification method due to limited water sources and a bear canister if required for the area you’ll be hiking and camping in.
  • Wildlife: Texas backpackers should be alert for potentially dangerous wildlife like venomous rattlesnakes, copperheads, black bears, mountain lions, feral hogs, alligators, and hazardous insects including scorpions, spiders, and fire ants when hiking and camping off the beaten path, especially in remote wilderness areas of the state. While not normally aggressive, these species can pose threats and proper precautions should be taken.
  • Wild camping: You can camp in many wild areas in Texas, but rules vary. Check and get permits if needed. National forests allow camping following Leave No Trace, while state parks and busy areas limit camping to specific sites. Private land may allow camping with permission. Less crowded public lands offer more flexibility for backcountry camping if done responsibly.
  • Best times to go are in the spring from March to May when mild temperatures and wildflower blooms create ideal conditions, and the fall from September to November when cooler weather arrives before winter. Summer is often too hot, especially in western deserts, while eastern forests remain humid. Prime months vary by region, but overall Texas offers the most rewarding backpacking in the spring and fall when pleasant weather aligns with fewer crowds.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in Texas

Here are the best multi-day backpacking trails in Texas:

1. Guadalupe Peak Trail

Breathtaking scenic view of the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, USA on a sunny day, with towering rocky peaks reaching up into a clear blue sky

Length: 8.1 mi / 13 km
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2949 ft / 899 m
Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3000 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The Guadalupe Peak Trail is an 8.1-mile out-and-back hike, reaching the highest point in the state at 8,749 feet. Extremely strenuous and taking 6-8 hours round-trip, it features steep switchbacks for the first 1.5 miles, followed by pine forests, a false summit, and a backcountry campsite before the final rocky push to the panoramic summit. Bring plenty of water, sun protection, layers for changing weather, and start early. Despite the grueling difficulty, it’s an iconic Texas hike.

2. Outer Mountain Loop

Dramatic aerial view capturing a sea of clouds blanketing the rugged peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park at sunrise

Length: 31.6 mi / 50.8 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 6863 ft / 2092 m
Location: Big Bend National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 12 700 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The Outer Mountain Loop is a brutal 31.6-mile circuit in Big Bend National Park, combining multiple trails like Pinnacles, Dodson, and Blue Creek. Highly challenging and taking around 16 hours, it offers varied desert scenery but scarce water. Avoid summer heat. For experienced backpackers only – strenuous, carry ample water, cache supplies, and allot multiple days for this rugged wilderness adventure.

3. Emory Peak via South Rim Trail and Boot Springs Trail

Vibrant green grassy field with towering mountains on the horizon under a brilliant blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds

Length: 15.2 mi / 24 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 3185 ft / 971 m
Location: Big Bend National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 7300 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The South Rim Trail is a challenging 15.2-mile loop in Big Bend National Park, taking around 8 hours. It culminates with a scramble up Emory Peak, the highest point, with incredible Chisos Mountain views. The exposed trail is great for wildlife viewing and camping offers unreal stargazing. Go clockwise for harder start or counterclockwise for more solitude early. A classic Big Bend hike combining panoramic vistas, camping, and a decent challenge.

4. Good Water Loop

Serene lake vista with calm blue waters surrounded by lush greenery and rolling hills in the Central Texas landscape

Matthew Peoples, CC BY-SA 2.0, via flickr

Length: 26.9 mi / 43.3 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1519 ft / 463 m
Location: Cedar Breaks Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 9800 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The Lone Star Hiking Trail is a moderate 26.9-mile loop near Georgetown, taking around 9 hours. Go clockwise starting at Tejas Park for the least rocky start/finish. Popular for backpacking with campsites from Russell to Cedar Breaks Parks. Traverses parks like Overlook and Cedar Breaks through classic Hill Country scenery. Avoid heat and bring bug spray.

5. McKittrick Canyon Trail

Striking contrast of verdant green grass in the foreground against a rugged brown mountain backdrop under a vivid blue sky

Length: 21.3 mi / 34.3 km
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 4074 ft / 1242 m
Location: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 9700 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The McKittrick Canyon Trail is a strenuous 21.3-mile out-and-back in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, taking around 10 hours. It travels the length of scenic McKittrick Canyon to the Tejas Trail intersection, passing highlights like The Notch rock formation. Can extend into a loop or point-to-point using other trails. Camp at McKittrick for solitude and dark skies.

Annual Weather Averages

Texas experiences a diverse climate with hot summers and mild to cool winters. Here’s a broad overview:

  • Summer (June to August): Expect hot temperatures, often exceeding 90°F (32°C) or more, especially in central and southern parts of the state. Summers can be quite humid, and there’s a chance of thunderstorms.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall brings milder temperatures, ranging from warm to cool. It’s a popular time for outdoor activities, including backpacking. However, temperatures can still be warm in September.
  • Winter (December to February): Winters are generally mild in Texas, with temperatures varying by region. The northern parts may experience cooler temperatures, occasionally dropping below freezing, while the southern areas remain relatively mild.
  • Spring (March to May): Spring is a pleasant time for backpacking, with mild to warm temperatures. It’s advisable to check for potential rain and thunderstorms, especially in late spring.

Before making your gear selection, take a look at the weather statistics for Texas (Huntsville):

High °F616572798591939489807062
Low °F424652596772749468605144
Rainy Days87881011998888
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude. Keep in mind that Texas is a large state with diverse landscapes, so conditions can vary.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if Texas is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guide for New Mexico.


Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Texas?

Whether campfires are allowed while backpacking in Texas depends on local fire restrictions and risks, but generally campfires are permitted in state parks and forests when fire danger is low. Backpackers should always check with local land managers regarding current fire bans before starting any fire, use established rings in developed areas and portable fire pans in backcountry, completely extinguish fires before leaving or sleeping, and consider alternative cooking methods like gas stoves during high fire risk periods to avoid potential fines for illegal or unsafe campfires.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Texas?

Backpackers should thoroughly research the trails and parks they plan to visit, checking for safety hazards such as extreme temperatures, venomous snakes, flooding risks or wildfires ahead of time. Safety essentials include bringing plenty of water, durable hiking boots, maps of the area, a first aid kit, sharing your route/timeline with others, using BearVaults or hanging bags for food storage to avoid animal encounters, having proper navigation tools like a GPS or compass as phone coverage may be limited, as well as carrying gear like insect repellent, a firestarter, pocket knife, and emergency shelter.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Texas?

It’s best to be prepared for wildlife encounters by making noise on the trail, storing food properly, and knowing basic behaviors – for example, leave rattlesnakes alone and give them space if seen, black bears are usually not aggressive but keep a safe distance and don’t run if encountered, and avoid interaction with javelinas which can charge if cornered while backing away slowly. Having bear spray on hand is a good precaution in some areas, and following food storage regulations in parks helps prevent potential conflicts with animals attracted to food smells. Always be alert yet cautious, avoid surprising animals, and contact authorities if needed for aggressive behaviors.

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Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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