El Capitan Trail Backpack, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Jornada Hiking & Outdoors Club
Jornada Hiking & Outdoors Club
Public group

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

400 Pine Canyon Drive · Salt Flat, TX

How to find us

Guadalupe National Park, Pine Springs Campground, is located about 100 miles east of El Paso on highway 62/180

Location image of event venue


The El Capitan Trail begins at the Pine Springs Campground trailhead. It leads around the base of El Capitan and along the west side of the Guadalupe escarpment ending at the historic Williams Ranch House (1908). It is the only trail to provide access to the spectacular cliffs and isolated west side of Guadalupe National Park. We will camp at the Shumard Canyon designated back-country campsite located just before Williams Ranch.

Rating: Moderate to Strenuous

Length: 19 mile roundtrip, in and out along the same trail.

Elevation Gain/Loss: Pine Springs trailhead is at 5822 feet. Shumard Campsite is at 4950 feet. The high point along the trail at the base of the escarpment is at 6400 feet.

There are no water sources along the entire route or at the ranch house. All water must be carried. A minimum of 1.5 gallons (12 pounds) is required for this overnight backpack.

No ground fires are allowed within the park. Pets and firearms are not permitted on the trails or in the backcountry.

The trail is exposed and unprotected from strong westerly winds should they occur. Average high and low temperatures for March are 63 and 38 respectively.

This outing is open to those individuals with some backpacking experience with the proper gear. The limit is 9 backpackers due to the number of camping pads that will accommodate 3 tents on each pad. This is not a beginners backpack.

Meet-up at the Lowe's parking lot on Montana Ave. in east El Paso at 7am.


The historic Butterfield Overland Trail [masked]) is located near the Williams Ranch.

Proposed Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail

On March 30, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Congressional legislation (Sec. 7209 of P.L. 111-11) to conduct a study of designating the trail a National Historic Trail. The United States Park Service is conducting meetings in affected communities and doing Special Resource Study/Environmental Assessment to determine whether it should become a trail and what the route should be. I think it would be fantastic if this trail were to become a reality! The trail would be about 2800 miles long and rival both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails.

Williams Ranch House