4.3 miles round trip | ½ day hike candidate: Yes
About: (An update now included below) I have unresolved business here. As you hike a good while on a gravely trail, you then start to enter the “foresty” area where cedars start populating the hike like a Christmas Tree farm. The scenery is getting beautiful and I know there should be a really good payoff, given the relatively wet season that year recently experienced. Along the way, I pass a deer. I am able to get pics within 10 feet of it. It’s cautious but less feral than one of my house cats. Everything is going great and the hike has been quite lovely as you ascend into the Chisos. But then, as hikers start to pass from the opposite direction, they state, “there’s a bear up there”. I’ve seen bears on hikes before, no big deal. Black bears are not very aggressive and tend to keep a good distance. We proceed. Next group of hikers heading down warn us of a bear on the trail. …I keep proceeding, while my wife started to verbally protest. Another set of hikers pass and say they turned around a cedar and a bear was right there in front of them. Ok… I am not really scared of black bears, but I am with my daughter and don’t want to “surprise” a bear, so this is the time to be “bear smart” and we turn around… I’ll be back for you soon, Pine Canyon.
We came back for you Pine Canyon, 3 years later. This time there were no hikers on the trail that warned us about bears. That’s because we didn’t see any other hikers. We make it past the point where we left off last time and the trail gets strikingly beautiful as the trees get dense, canyon walls begin to surround you, and yellow leaves litter the ground letting us know we were there during Thanksgiving. We were enjoying this amazing tranquil hike. That’s when I notice this guy, bear ears and all, just looking at us.
I just started readying “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a hysterically entertaining book. However, I just completed the rant he goes on about the dangers of bears. Again, I’ve seen bears on trails, and they tend to leave you alone, but that book put all the “what ifs” into my head. So, it was time to do what we should do… Finish the dang trail!
The trail is very rewarding. I love how it drastically changes from start to finish. You come to a shear rock cliff that turns to a water fall during a rain. We weren’t lucky enough to see water coming from the falls this time, but I’d love to go back after a rain. I bet its beautiful.
Pros: A good place to spot a bear.
Cons: That initial gravel path is a bit of an annoying trek
Tips: Keep your eyes and ears open. You can easily walk past a bear in the distance if you’re not looking. They can blend better than you think. I nearly passed one before on Boot Canyon until my wife pointed out I had already walked past it.