Start hiking along the Pinnacles Trail
, which departs from a trailhead in the Chisos Basin Visitor Center parking lot. The Pinnacles Trail
follows the same route as the Laguna Meadow Trail
for a short while, but each respective trail is very well signed where they split. Follow the Pinnacles Trail
through the Chisos Basin as it ascends the southwest wall. When there's a short reprieve from climbing where the trail crosses a meadow, turn around to take in a stunning view of the basin, and the entire Chisos Range to the north. Continue climbing, following switchbacks as the trail moves from the dry landscape of the lower basin to the more lush foliage found at higher elevations.
The Pinnacles Trail
ends when you reach the ridge, and the junction with the Emory Peak Trail
and Boot Canyon Trail
. Follow the Emory Peak Trail
as it heads south from the junction—is very well marked; you can't miss it.
There is a permanent bathroom at the beginning of the Emory Peak Trail
, as well as two bear boxes maintained by the NPS. The bear boxes are very convenient as they allow for light hike up this trail. While the Emory Peak Trail
is only about 1.5 miles long, it gains elevation pretty quickly.
The trail ends just below the peak. If one were to see the benchmark on Emory Peak, a 15 foot climb would be required.
The view is... ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR! On a nice day, a full 360-degree view is possible. One can see almost the entirety of the Chisos Mountains, and the Chihuahuan Desert beyond. The mountains look like they just go on forever.
Once you've taken in the view, head back down the Emory Peak Trail
and then the Pinnacles Trail
. And make sure you grab anything you stored in the bear boxes!