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Burro Mesa
The walk back out of the canyon from the pour-off

Big Bend: Burro Mesa Pour-off Trail

At a glance

Distance: 1 mile rountrip
Elevation change: 75 feet
Hiking time: 1 hour
Highlights: Desert flora, multicolored cliffs and a pour-off carved in granite at the end

Difficulty: ★★☆☆☆
A short, flat walk between bluffs
Trail conditions: ★★★☆☆
The trail follows a sandy wash; so, while it’s not well marked, you can’t get lost.
Scenery: ★★★☆☆
Multicolored volcanic bluffs line a desert trail that leads up to the sculptured pour-off
Solitude: ★★★☆☆
Moderately crowded because it’s short and easy, but it’s not among the most popular trails.

Other reviews

• On Texashiking.com
• On Everytrail.com

The short, hot walk up the Burro Mesa Pour-off Trail is a stroll through the volcanic history of Big Bend, much of it laid out in the tall bluff to the left as you enter the canyon.

The dark basalt and conglomerate at the bottom of bluff – much of which is buried in eroded sediment – is the same volcanic rock that lies under the Chisos Mountains to the east.

Burro Mesa

The pour-off carved in Burro Mesa rhyolite

About 30 million years ago, new volcanic flows poured over the top of those Chisos rocks from nearby vents, producing the dark Burro Mesa rhyolite at the top of the bluff and the light yellow wedge of the Wasp Spring breccia immediately below it. It was the last significant volcanic activity in Big Bend. The entire lineup is a mirror of the rocks along the South Rim, only dropped several thousand feet here by subsequent faulting.

The trail climbs slightly through the desert before dipping into the sandy wash that leads into the canyon. From there, it veers into the box canyon to the right, following a rocky wash strewn with with Texas persimmon. It snakes around to the left, where the pour-off looms ahead.

The darker rhyolite and yellow breccia layers from the bluff at the start of the trail carry through the rock walls here. Sculpted rhyolite forms the top half of the pour-off, while the more heavily eroded Wasp Spring breccia lies immediately below.

There are two Burro Mesa Trails – this one, which ends at the bottom of the chute, and the longer trail above that ends at the top. During heavy summer rains, the water shoots through the canyon above, down the pour-off and out through the wash.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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