Monday, April 9, 2018

February 23 - Day 9 in Big Bend National Park - Grapevine Hills Trail to Balanced Rock

beginning of the Grapevine Hills Trail
The Grapevine Hills Trail is a 1.1 mile (one way) out and back hike that ends at what's called the Balanced Rock. Trail reviews stated there are also lots of other very interesting large rocks in the area, so we were eager to see for ourselves. The trail head is 6 miles down the gravel Grapevine Hills Road, which is 3.3 miles west of Panther Junction. We didn't set an alarm to get a really early start, so there were a couple of vehicles at the trail head when we arrived. The above shot is Cindy heading down the trail from the parking area.

The trail wasn't really exciting to begin with as far as the landscape goes, so we kept our eyes peeled for birds and the elusive cold blooded creatures that are rumored to inhabit this park. The first 3/4 or so of the trail follows a wash and is fairly easy hiking. The scenery did get more interesting as we progressed. Here are a few shots.

You may notice that there still aren't any reptile shots. I may get skunked on this trip 😢 About 3/4 of the way into the hike, the trail began to climb Grapevine Hills towards the Balanced Rock. Grapevine Hills is an exposed laccolith. According to Wikipedia, "a laccolith is a sheet intrusion (or concordant pluton) that has been injected between two layers of sedimentary rock. The pressure of the magma is high enough that the overlying strata are forced upward, giving the laccolith a dome or mushroom-like form with a generally planar base." So there you have it. The bottom line is the geology here is fascinating and different from anything else we've seen so far.

interesting tree along the trail
view back down the trail
When we got to the end of the trail at Balanced Rock, we had it all to ourselves. All the people that beat us to the trail head passed us as they were heading back to the parking area. The rock is a pretty big boulder to be balanced the way that it is. For scale, I have a picture of us behind it, then a few more shots of it from different angles.

From our vantage point on the hill, we could see more people heading up the trail towards us, so I got all of the Balanced Rock shots I wanted before they showed up. Once they arrived, I looked for other photo ops. Here are a few.

folded rock
this yucca is about 6-7' tall
I guess this would be considered balanced also

another cactus skeleton
More people showing up was our cue to head back to the truck. We stopped by the Chisos Mountains again to do a loop trail that was supposed to be good for birds, but didn't have any luck. From there, we decided to head back to the camp site and relax the rest of the day.

1 comment:

  1. Oh WOW! What a surreal landscape - and so beautiful. The balanced rock looks like a big potato :) My fave was np178.jpg. Just thinking how/when that could have formed is mind blowing.