While we only spent an afternoon exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we enjoyed the two hikes we took.
Devils Hall is 4.66 miles round trip on a moderate trail with an elevation gain of 731 feet. We followed a washed out river bed for quite awhile. Toward the end of the trail you’ll come upon a natural stairway which was neat. We did not go to far beyond the sign where the trail is closed from March through October for sensitive species. Some moderate rock scrambles along the way. Walking sticks are helpful. We each lost a pad for our sticks and recommend bringing extras. We saw about a half dozen people on the trail and two were employees fixing the cairns to mark the trail.
Smith Spring Trail goes through two different ecosystems. There are two natural springs on this trail and plenty of opportunity to see wildlife. We saw javelinas on two occasions and were able to watch them for a while on the second. This trail is noted for great bird watching as well but we only saw one small bird along the way. It may have something to do with the three people behind us (at a distance) one of whom was speaking very loudly, nonstop, and his voice carried. When hiking it is common courtesy for hikers to keep voices reasonable as it was frustrating knowing they were reducing our chances of viewing wildlife.
The park ranger we talked with prior to heading out said that this time of year the elk were coming down from higher elevations and the mountain lions follow them down. We were hoping to see some (elk) from the trail but did not. She was currently reading a book about mountain lions and was freaked out by them now. She showed us a picture of a baby mountain lion with blood on its mouth and said she learned they eat the heart and lungs of its prey first. They did have mountain lion warnings and safety tips posted at the trailheads.