This short loop trail explores the Sam Nail Ranch, set amid an oasis beneath Burro Mesa. The peaceful loop passes the ruins of the house, a chicken coop, an orchard and two wind mills and enjoys great views of the Chisos Mountains, the Window, Vernon Bailey and Carter Peaks.
- Distance: 0.4 miles (Loop)
- Elevation: 3,646-ft. at Trailhead
Maximum elevation - 3,605-ft.
- Elevation Gain: -41-ft.
- Difficulty: easy
- Basecamp: Big Bend
- Region: Texas Parks
Trail Description - Sam Nail Ranch
The Sam Nail Ranch, owned by Sam and Jim Nail along with Sam’s wife Nena, is located along the north end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. The adobe homestead at the ranch was built between 1909 and 1916. By some accounts the ranch occupied up to 15,000-acres and operated for almost 40 years raising goats and sheep.
A pleasant 0.4 mile hike explores the ranch site, set amid an oasis beneath the eastern escarpment of Burro Mesa. The site enjoys great views of the Chiso Mountains to the east. The Window, a pour-off located between Vernon Bailey and Carter Peaks, is directly across the valley. Burro Mesa towers above the site to the west.
The short, easy loop trail passes the ruins of the ranch, which includes the adobe walls of the house, a chicken coop, an orchard with pecan, walnut and fig trees and two wind mills, one of which is still operational. The water and trees around the property attract birds and other wildlife, so keep an eye out for the ranches current inhabitants as you stroll around the site.
From the Big Bend National Park Headquarters at Panther Junction: From Panther Junction, at the intersection of the Persimmon Gap Road and the West Entrance Road, head west on the West Entrance (Gano Springs) road toward Basin Junction. Follow the road for 12.7 miles and then turn left on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Drive 3.3 miles on the Ross Maxwell road and then turn into the pull-out along the west side of the road signed for the Sam Nail Ranch.
From the Chisos Mountain Lodge Area: Head northeast on Chisos Basin Road for 6.4 miles and then turn left onto the West Entrance Road. Follow the West Entrance Road for 9.5 miles and the turn left onto the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Drive 3.3 miles on the Ross Maxwell road and then turn into the pull-out along the west side of the road signed for the Sam Nail Ranch.
- Trail Photo Gallery
- Trail Maps
- Basecamp(s) Information: Big Bend
- Region Information: Texas Parks
- Other Hiking Regions in: Texas