Photographing the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend N.P.

I’ve been asked many times about the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park – what to expect, how long it is, how hard it is, and even what lenses to use. In my opinion, this hike offers one of the best bangs for the buck in terms of effort vs reward.
Difficulty? The hike itself is only about 5 miles round-trip. If visitors plan to hike in Big Bend and not just stroll some of the flat areas, they would need to be in reasonable shape. For the Lost Mine Trail, it is a gradual 2.5 mile uphill walk with switchbacks here and there, but nothing too strenuous. At the top it flattens out a bit and goes another .25 miles, so make sure to keep going until the trail stops.

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Lost Mine Panorama in Spring 317-1 : Prints Available

One of my favorite places in Big Bend National Park is the top of the Lost Mine Trail. The views of Casa Grande and Juniper Canyon are second to none, and will continue to draw me back time and time again. This panorama was taken on a quiet and amazing Spring evening and tries to show the scope of this beautiful landscape.

This panorama is available in larger and custom sizes.

I took a friend up with me a few years ago, and he admitted he wasn’t quite ready. He suffered from heat exhaustion and had to take frequent water breaks, but he made it. I think it inspired him to come back in better shape on his next visit! So the difficulty of the trail is a relative term and depends on the conditioning of the individual.
Lenses? I love my wide angle lenses – my 16-35 and my 11-24, both Canon L lenses. I think the wide angle gives a sense of perspective and shows the grand landscapes of this remote national park. I also like the way these lenses, especially at 13-15mm, shows off the sky and clouds.
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Lost Mine Late Afternoon 311-1 : Prints Available

Juniper Canyon stretches out to the south, seen here from the top of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park. This is one of my favorite shorter hikes (~ 5 miles round trip) and offers one of the best views in the park.

When? I prefer to shoot from the Lost Mine Trail at sunset. The sun sets over Casa Grande Peak across the valley from where I’m standing, and if the clouds are floating by, the colors can be pretty amazing. People are often up there at sunset but quickly disperse, leaving me alone with the impending sunset colors.
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Last Light in Big Bend 317-1 : Prints Available

The last light falls across Big Bend National Park and Casa Grande. Seen here from the top of the Lost Mine Trail, an easy 5-mile out and back trek, the skies were beautiful shades of orange and blue, and Juniper Canyon far below was already slipping into darkness.

This alone-time is something I relish. Walking back in the dark can be a little creepy, so I always bring a few good flashlights just in case one doesn’t work.I also make some noise on the trail so I don’t surprise a foraging black bear or mountain lion.
I’ve found sunrises, while I’ll have the top of the trail to myself, are generally flat. Again, that is my opinion and I like shooting into the sun before it rises. Pointing my camera in that direction usually leads to some nice colors in the sky.
I hope this helps a little. Lost Mine is well worth the walk up, and by lingering longer than most, the reward could be one of the most amazing sunsets you’ll experience.
Happy Travels, Texas, and be kind!
~ Rob
Images from Texas

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