Balanced Rock at the end of Grapevine Hills Trail. Text on the image says "Grapevine Hills - Balanced Rock. Hiking Trails in Big Bend".

Hiking to Balanced Rock Big Bend – Grapevine Hills Trail

Grapevine Hills Trail, also known as Balanced Rock in Big Bend National Park is my favorite desert hike in the entire park! It’s a short and sweet family-friendly hike that kids and adults of all ages will love. Most of the hike is relatively flat with a short rock scramble at the last section of the trail. Hikers will be rewarded with the view of the Balanced Rock formation at the end. The group of boulders are delicately balanced on each other. You can even walk right under it for views stunning views of the desert and hills surrounding. 

Grapevine Hills Trail Hiking Stats

Grapevine Hills Trail Hiking Stats Graphic
Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 235 feet
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Time: 1-2 hours
On the left side of the graphic is a picture of a sign at the start of the Grapevine Hills trailhead.

Directions to the Grapevine Hills Trailhead

To get to the Grapevine Hills Trailhead, you’ll turn off of Gano Springs Road onto Grapevine Spring. This is a “maintained gravel/dirt road“. It’s definitely rough in several patches but do-able even for smaller vehicles (although an SUV or high clearance vehicle is preferred). Just take your time and go slow. You’ll be on this road for about 6.3 miles. Make sure to add extra time for this road as it’s pretty slow going. 

Grapevine Hills Trailhead sign with trail starting to the left and rock outcroppings behind the sign.
Start of Grapevine Hills Trail.

You’ll want to keep in mind that there are no restrooms at the trailhead, so plan accordingly. The Panther Junction and Chisos Basin Visitor Centers are close by if you need to make a stop before or after your hike. I was drinking a lot of water on the way and well, the bumpy road kinda took a toll on my bladder… Learn from my mistake people!

You’ll arrive at a small parking lot off to the right side of the road. There is a sign marking the start of the trailhead. 

Tips for Hiking Grapevine Hills Trail

  • It’s best to hike to Balanced Rock either in the morning or evening. There is little to no shade on the trail.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water! As I just mentioned there is no shade and this is considered a desert hike
  • While the boulders look super fun to climb on, keep an eye out for snakes!
Balanced rock on the Grapevine Hills Trail in Big Bend National Park on a sunny day.

Hiking Grapevine Hills Trail to Balanced Rock

The majority of the Grapevine Hills trail follows a flat gravel wash. There are huge boulders surrounding the trail pretty much the entire hike. The scenery made me feel as though I had been transported back in time when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth! In fact, over 90 species of dinosaurs have been discovered at Big Bend National Park. There is even a Fossil Discovery Exhibit in the park if you’re interested in learning more. 

Woman wearing shorts and a t-shirt with hiking boots walking on the Grapevine Hills Trail with a backpack cooler on a sunny day.
You’ll follow this flat gravel/sandy wash for most of the hike.

The last quarter mile of the trail is where the fun starts to happen, get ready to climb! The trail starts to climb steeply up the rocks/boulders. You may even get to do some rock scrambling over the larger boulders. It can be a little tricky to tell where the trail goes at times but keep an eye out for the metal signs that point you in the right direction. As you’re climbing up the Balanced Rock will be off to the right. You can’t miss it, it’s huge!

A man is climbing the boulders on Grapevine Hills trail in big bend National park. He's wearing a red shirt and black shorts and is looking at the ground with both hands on his hips.
This is the point where the trail really begins to climb. Up we go!

We packed a picnic lunch in our cooler, so we sat in the shade of a boulder and relaxed, ate, and enjoyed our views. Enjoy it while it lasts, this is about the only shaded area during the hike. 

Photo was taken standing under Balanced Rock overlooking the desert on a warm sunny day.
Views looking out from underneath Balanced Rock.

Philip enjoyed climbing up some of the boulders around Balanced Rock. You can even walk right under it to see more amazing desert beauty. When you’re ready to return back, you’ll follow the same path out as you took in. Make sure to stop before you head down and see how far you came! I could just barely see our truck off in the distance. 

The Grapevine Hills trail winds through boulders and rocks in the desert.
View of the Grapevine Hills Trail from the top of the rock scramble.

We really enjoyed this hike! It’s a great one to do if you don’t have a ton of time to spend in the park. It’s quick and not too difficult. Perfect for hikers of all skill levels. If you’re looking for more hikes to do in Big Bend, be sure to check out some of my other hiking guides and information about the park below. 

Happy hiking! 

Megan signature

More Big Bend National Park Information

Big Bend NPS Hiking Information

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  1. I feel like this is going to be my kind of hike – I love the views. That reddish earth against the bright blue sky is gorgeous!

    1. Yes!! This one isn’t bad at all πŸ™ŒπŸΌ Philip isn’t much of a hiker and it was probably his favorite trail we did.

  2. I seriously can’t get over this place!! These views, the trailers, gah!! It makes me just so excited to go!! Thank you for putting these together girl!

    1. Of course! I can’t wait for you to get to experience it someday. I know you’d absolutely love it!

  3. Everyone who visits Big Bend needs to do this hike! We had so much fun! When we got to the Balanced Rock we had it to ourselves and enjoyed resting in the shade it creates for awhile πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this information for others!

    1. We were so glad when we got to the shaded part πŸ˜‚ I was also surprised we had the area to ourselves too (although there was a group coming up as we were headed down)

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