Sometimes a short, easy hike is just what you need for a nice change of pace during a park visit. The Window View Trail at Big Bend National Park is a great leg-stretcher to begin or end your day, and it has a bonus—an outstanding view, especially at sunset.
The Window View Trail covers only 0.3 miles round-trip, so for most of us, a trip around this short loop is a stroll, not a hike. Even so, if you're staying in the Lodge or even the campground in the Chisos Basin, it's a great way to get the body moving in the morning, or a relaxing chance to enjoy a desert sunset and wind things down after a busy day of sightseeing in the park.
The trail begins near the northwest corner of the parking lot in the Basin; if you've timed your pre-sunset dinner right at the Lodge, just follow the sidewalk around the right-hand side of the lot, past the visitor center and store, and pick up the paved trail. This map will help you with the layout in the Basin area.
A viewing area near the midpoint of the loop trail offers a fine glimpse through a classic Big Bend landmark—The Window. Once you're in the area, you won't have any problem picking out that dominant feature on the landscape. There are a couple of benches and a stone wall to provide a perch while you enjoy the sunset. If you want to linger until last light, carry a flashlight for your return to the trailhead.
The trail is handicapped accessible, and you can pick up a booklet for the self-guiding trail at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.
This is a great, easy hike at Big Bend almost any time of the year, although it could be a bit brisk or even occasionally snowy during the winter. The Basin's elevation at about 5,400 feet means temperatures are usually very pleasant here even during the summer, when it's just a little too toasty for many of us to really enjoy an August hike in the park's lower desert.
If the Window View Trail whets your appetite for a slightly more serious hike, you may want to tackle the 4-mile round trip to the Window itself. You'll find descriptions of that, and other day hikes in the Basin at this link, plus information about other self-guiding trails at Big Bend.