Seminole Canyon State Park

8.60 Miles
3point5stars (3.63)9
1point5stars (1.61)
3point5stars (3.83)
Val Verde
More Info
Well Marked Trails
For the most part, both the Rio Grande and Canyon Rim trails are well marked at .25 mile intervals and easy to see. If you don't see the trail, stop and look for the next interval marker. (Photo by MikeHikes)
A Deer Crossing
The park is wide open - no trees but lots of scrub and cacti. (Photo by MikeHikes)
A Few Sparrows
Numerous birds are around but there are no trees - be prepared in sunny weather! (Photo by MikeHikes)
Nice View!
Water in the canyon is NOT from the Rio Grande but from rain and springs. (Photo by MikeHikes)
View from the Canyon Rim Trail
Lots of scenic views along this trail. (Photo by MikeHikes)
The trail ends near the windmill which gives it its name. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Windmill Nature Trail
This is the sign to the trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Cutting Board
The gashes in this rock and the smooth oily surface indicate it was likely used to cut meat. (Photo by Lone_Star)
The rock shelter is home to some spectacular pictographs. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Fate Bell Rock Shelter
The tour takes you over and into the rock shelter where you can see signs of ancient human habitation. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Ranger Led Tour
The $5 tour is led by a ranger and the trail takes you down these steps into Seminole Canyon. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Distance markers are prominently placed every 1/4 mile along the trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)

Only showing last 12 photos. View All Photos

Log Entries
By zemaitisa12 on 12/2/2018
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 3.50 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Did Everything in One Day
By MikeHikes on 11/15/2017
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 10.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Temps started at 68 ended at 85, foggy then sunny, no wind then North wind.

This is a summary of my day at the park separated into three sections for easy reference.

Leg 1 - Windmill Nature Walk - approx .7 miles roundtrip

This hike starts behind the Visitor Center and ends at the park entrance road approximately .35 miles away; return on said road for a total hike distance of about .7 mile.   The hike meanders along a path filled with identification markers of various plants native to the park.  There is a historical sign near the end of the hike regarding the old windmill (no longer functioning).  Although it is relatively short, you will get a work out hiking up and down the hillside.  

Leg 2 - Fate Bell Cave Tour - approx 1.2 - 2 miles roundtrip

This hike can only be done as a member of the park conducted guided tour ($ - check with the park as to dates and times).  The total distance is about 1.2 miles although we were told it was 2 miles long.  Leisurely hike as you learn about the Native American pictographs the park is known for.  I recommend this tour and advise you to make sure you're wearing comfortable hiking shoes, bring water, and have a good camera!

Leg 3 - Rio Grande and Canyon Rim Trails - my route was 8.1 miles

STRONGLY SUGGEST you get a free park trail map when you go to the Visitor's Center it's easy to read and most important, it's accurate!  

There are no trees in the park but lots of scrub and various cactus which means you will be hiking in the open - an important factor in the summer months.  These trails can be hiked separately or combined (I suggest you combine the hikes totaling approx 8 miles).  Both hikes start at the Rio Grande Trailhead; the Canyon Rim Trail branches off approx .45 miles in (according to the park trail map).  Of the two trails, the Rio Grande Trail is the easiest as you are hiking on a crushed stone/dirt road along the western edge of the park.  Both trails are well marked with mileage markers about every .25 mile.  Where there is a junction with another trail, it is clearly marked. 

I followed the Rio Grande trail until it headed for the Panther Cave Overlook; I continued straight and connected to Canyon Rim Trail.  Continue straight and you'll come to the Rio Grande Viewing Area - Mexico is directly across the river.  I stayed on the Canyon Rim Trail as I headed North which took me to the Panther Cave Pictograph site. 

Panther Cave is one of the park highlights and well worth the effort to see it.  Understand that you cannot go to Panther Cave but view it from the viewpoint across the canyon (there is a boat tour available at certain times of the year but I have no direct knowledge of the cost or when it is offered).

A word of advice - look to the right of the Pather Cave Overlook shelter/info kiosk and you'll see a trail that goes along the edge of the cliff (not listed on the map).  Follow the trail, always making sure you stay safe, and at some point you'll have a direct view across the canyon to see inside the cave with the pictographs.  

Continue on the Canyon Rim trail and eventually it connects to the Rio Grande Trail - very easy to see on the trails map.  Of the two trails, Canyon Rim is the most scenic and more arduous with many portions of the trail being rock, either loose or one single piece, with inclines and declines of some length but it is do-able.  Since there is NO WATER available on the trails, make sure you have plenty before leaving the trailhead and be advised, there is NO SHADE on the trails except at the few viewing areas which are clearly marked on the park's trails map.


GET A FREE TRAILS MAP at the Visitor Center!!!

NO WATER on the trails - make sure you bring plenty.

Water, shade, info and toilets available at the Visitor Center.

Fate Bell Pictograph Site Tour & Windmill Nature Trail
By Lone_Star on 11/14/2013
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 2point5stars
Distance: 1.80 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes
I took the Fate Bell Pictograph Site tour and finished by hiking back along the Windmill Nature Trail. I will discuss these separately.

The Fate Bell Pictograph Site tour is a ranger led tour that is given at 10am and 3pm. The cost is $5. You start the tour by hiking downhill from the Visitor's Center down into Seminole Canyon and then over to the Fate Bell rock shelter. There you can see numerous, impressive pictographs made from ancient native American settlers from the past. Many of the pictographs are visible, but sadly they are fading quickly over time. It is believed that when the nearby Amistad Reservoir was created in the 1960's, the increase in relative humidity in the air is causing the pictographs to fade away.

In my opinion, this is $5 well spent. I would encourage you to see the pictographs while you can.

The Windmill Nature Trail is a short, basic nature trail that loops along the canyon and ends near the windmill near the Visitor's Center. There are exhibit signs identifying various plants along the way, but the trail isn't very impressive in my opinion.

The New Canyon Rim Trail Is Awesome!
By Lone_Star on 11/13/2013
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 7.60 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 36 minutes

I hiked Seminole Canyon via the Rio Grande Trail back in 2008 and was impressed by it. The only drawback was that the trail was fairly boring until the very end and then, WOW! You were provided with some breathtaking views of the canyon and river running through it.

Since I was in the general area, I decided to swing by Seminole Canyon again, mainly to camp overnight. However, I was pleased to learn that a new trail had been developed about a year ago called the Canyon Rim Trail. Naturally, I couldn't resist hiking it. :)

The Canyon Rim trail provides many more scenic overviews of different parts of Seminole Canyon and also takes you out along the banks of the Rio Grande River. The trail is well marked with huge rock cairns and is easy to follow. In my opinion, this new trail is the best thing this State park has done. It really shows off the natural beauty of the area. Good job, Texas State Parks!

New Canyon Rim Trail
By M High on 10/24/2011
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: N/A

There's a new trail under construction at Seminole Canyon, it's listed on the map as "Proposed Hike/Bike Trail", and is now about 90% complete.  I walked it this past weekend; you can access it about a half a mile down the Rio Grande Trail, the first chance you get to turn off to the left and just over the ridge that marks the 1882 rail grade you'll see a large cairn of rocks (about 4-5 feet high).  From here, you follow the trail that hugs the top rim of the canyon until it meets back up with the Rio Grande Trail several miles just before the first picnic table overlooking Panther Cave.  This part of the trail is not specifically marked, other than some rock cairns, but it is cleared of loose rock and very easy to follow.  It follows along the edge of the canyon, so not much elevation change, and also much more interesting views than the Rio Grande Trail (which is mostly a featureless desert slog).

From there, follow the Rio Grande Trail the last part of a mile to the end, where a new trail continues along the edge of the Rio Grande, then loops back to re-connect with the Rio Grande further up.  This trail is only about half-finished, the last part only marked by scant red ribbons in the vegetation.  This loop is about a mile long, then after reconnecting with the Rio Grande Trail, just follow it back to the starting point.

Happy Ending
By Lone_Star on 3/4/2008
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 7.00 Miles Duration: 3 hours

This was my first hike in West Texas and it exceeded my expectations.  This state park has about 6 miles of trails plus a short nature trail near the park HQ.

The hike is a little plain, but the trails are wide and extremely well maintained.  At the end of the hike, you are given a spectacular view of Panther Cave and the Rio Grande river as it pours into Seminole Canyon.   You get cliff vistas several hundred of feet over beautiful green water.  It is quite astounding and makes the hike worthwhile.  You can also walk around off the trails to get a better view of the river.

There is also a small guided tour trail that takes you to the Fate Bell Rockshelter Weds - Sun.  Unfortunately, I was there on a Tuesday, so I was not able to take this guided tour, but I was able to get to a point where I could photograph the rockshelter.

One other thing that makes this hike interesting is to find the fossilized imprints of sea creatures in the limestone that date back approximately 100 million years.  It is like walking through an outdoor museum of natural history.

I highly recommend hiking this park! 

By texnomad on 10/20/2007
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: 5 hours

This hike starts out boring and continues to be not very interesting until near the end them WOW WOW WOW.  The last half mile makes it worth while.  When you get to the handrailings, go around to the right and down a ledge or two and see the lake and Mexico in all its splender.  On the return take all the little side trails to break up the monotonous trip back.  Extremely easy walking, but miserably hot in summer. Very good for biking to cover the flat desert faster.

small group tour
By maxrebo on 4/10/2002
Rating: N/A Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Watch for eagles nesting in the canyons, as well as the rock paintings
stunning rock art
By fwk2005 on 4/15/2000
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Worth the hike to see the rock art, but don't go in the summer.

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