Difficulty: Strenuous; significant elevation changes and primitive trail, no water.
The "Outer Mountain Loop" refers to the 30-mile circuit that combines the Pinnacles, Juniper Canyon, Dodson, Blue Creek, and Laguna Meadows trails. It includes a wide variety of habitats and scenery including, the piñon/juniper/oak woodlands of the Chisos Mountains and the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert. Sections of this trail are extremely steep and there is limited flat or level hiking. The route is highly strenuous and is not recommended for inexperienced hikers.
Most hikers begin from the Chisos Basin and hike the trail in a clockwise direction. Hikers will need to cache water at the Homer Wilson Ranch before attempting this hike. Bear-proof storage boxes are available for caching water at two locations only: The Blue Creek/Homer Wilson Ranch on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and the end of the rugged Juniper Canyon Road (high-clearance vehicle required). Caching water or other items for use on the Outer Mountain Loop in the storage boxes at Toll Mountain Pass (upper end of the Pinnacles Trail) or any other NPS-provided storage box is prohibited.
Carrying adequate water is always a concern on this trail. Do NOT rely on seasonal or intermittent springs. Desert water is precious, ephemeral, and unpredictable.
You will need a backcountry permit for camping along this route. Most hikers plan on 2 nights/3 days to complete the Outer Mountain Loop.
Last updated: June 3, 2021