Lower Burro Mesa Pour Off

Big Bend Park Easy Hikes: Mule Ears, Lower Burro Mesa, Sam Nail

Mule Ears Overlook

There is only so much time in a day or a trip to Big Bend park. One of the places we skirted was the Mule Ears, so named for the way the two peaks shoot up into the sky like pert mule ears. The full trail is about 7 miles round trip. However, as you traverse the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive north from Santa Elena Canyon there is a spot to stop and take them in…and, try to line your kid’s head up and a get a “mule ear” picture.

Mule Ears Overlook at Big Bend park

Lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off

As you continue north through Big Bend park, the turnoff for the Burro Mesa Trails is on the north side of the road, about ten minutes past the Mule Ears Viewpoint. There are two trails. The easier and shorter of the two is the Lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off (the Upper Burro Mesa does not connect). It is a shortish hike – about a mile, round-trip. With two kids it took us around an hour.

Lower Burro Mesa Pour Off at Big Bend park

The pay off is at the end of the hike. This is where you will stand at the bottom of the pour-off from Javelina Creek. Here you can see several distinct geological layers and feel like a tiny, tiny human.

Lower Burro Mesa Pour Off at Big Bend park

The end of the trail is also the only shaded area of the trail. Much of the trip is in a gravel wash. Those are not great fun to walk in but this trail was overrun with small lizards so the kids were kept busy chasing those little guys.

Also, parts of the trail are marked with rocks so keep an eye out or you may miss your turn.

Sam Nail Ranch

After the blazing sun of the Lower Burro Mesa, you and your little ones will love Sam Nail Ranch. It is a perfect “heat of the day” hike because it is short and shady.

The entire loop is under half a mile and the only open sun is on the walk in. Once you reach the thicket you are in another ecosystem entirely.

Sam Nail Ranch at Big Bend park

This is the site of the Nail Ranch. They built a windmill and some adobe houses. You can see the ruins of these as well as some other outbuildings like a chicken coop. Big Bend park maintains a functional windmill that allows this little oasis to exist.

When you reach the backside of the loop there is a bench to take a break on…or make your family take pictures. Either way, it will be a blast and it is a great family-friendly stop.

RETURN TO: Day Four: Hiking with kids and Fossils, Burros, and Canyons

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