Getting there: The easiest starting point is just a stone's throw from
the Chisos Mountain Lodge parking lot. Near the start you'll find a large wooden sign with arrows pointing in various directions towards the trails that start near that point. Go in the direction of Laguna Meadow or South Rim.
A view along the trail. Note the steel sign with punched out letters at the fork in the road. Pardon the less then clear pictures. A smudge on the lens was not discovered until after the trip!
With the exception of the Window View Trail the Basin Loop Trail is one of the easiest to be found in the Chisos Basin. This short hike will provide ample opportunity to observe the unique Chisos environment.
The trailhead begins at the waypoint marked "Trailhead". The large wooden sign here points in various directions to the trails that originate from this point. The trail heads to the southwest, mostly following the contour of the land, so the going here is fairly easy. If the moderate elevation gain later in the hike is not to your liking you can always turn back and return via the same route.
The trail will largely consist of gravel and packed dirt with some rocky sections.
There are only a few places in which you need to make choices about turns and forks in
the trail. One of them is at the first waypoint marked "Y-Left" at the westernmost point in the hike. These intersections typically have metal signs with directions punched out of them. The punched out letters are difficult to deface and fairly rugged when it comes to the weather. There should be little trouble with finding your way along the trail.
The Window is the notch in the rock centered here. The entire Chisos Basin drains through this one spot.
Despite being close to the Chisos Mountain Lodge there are plenty of plants and animals
to observe. The year of our visit was a good one for Century Plants and there were plenty
of them along the trail, some already fallen after pollinating. Just a couple of days
before our hike a Mountain Lion had been spotted near, but not exactly on, this trail.
Vernon Bailey Peak in the distance. The Window is the notch to its left obscured by foliage.
The first noticable elevation gain occurs after the first "Y-Left" waypoint. While fairly mild, the climb fatigued us a bit since we had already hiked a great deal of the day and we were squeezing this hike in before the day was through.
At the second "Y-Left" waypoint a steady descent back to the trailhead begins. There is a steep section in right before the waypoint "Employee Housing". If the slope is too steep there are steps cut into the slope on the left side.
Eventually the trail rejoins the path taken on the trip out and it's a short distance back
to the trailhead and the Chisos Mountain Lodge.