McKittrick Canyon to the Grotto

This is the signature out-and-back day hike in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The trail roughly follows a bright white limestone stream bed up the canyon with the walls of McKittrick Canyon towering thousands of feet above. In late October and early November fall colors add to the beauty of the trip.

Two old stone cabins, Pratt Cabin (2.5 miles in) and Hunter Line Cabin (at 3.9 miles in), can be seen along the way. With just a slight upward slope, the trail is accessible by most people. The Grotto is a small rock overhang with dripping springs and speleoderms that you will encounter just before the Hunter Line Cabin. There are picnic tables at both Pratt Cabin and The Grotto, so bring a lunch and relax a bit.

Just past the side trail to Hunter Line Cabin things get serious with a climb of 2,600 feet over the next four miles if you choose to continue. That's why for most people the day hike turnaround is at the Grotto.

Ride Info

  • 0.00 miles of Singletrack
  • 390 feet
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Elevation Profile

Hover on the elevation line to see the position on the map

How to get there:

The trail begins at the McKittrick Canyon Trailhead. From the park headquarters at Pine Springs travel east eight miles on Highway 62/180 and turn left into McKittrick Canyon. The trailhead has restrooms, water and a small visitors center.