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Hancock Hill Hike to Desk Alpine Texas

The desk hike atop Hancock Hill is one of the most unique hiking experiences in Texas. A what?! Yes, you read that correctly, a desk. Complete with office chair, writing implements, and notebooks.

On top of a hill in the Texas high desert.

Alpine Texas is already a unique place to visit in Texas, so I guess the desk hike is not such a strange thing after all. As the saying goes “Austin is weird but Alpine is far out”.

In 1981, the imagination and initiative of three college students brought the desk to the hilltop as a place to study in the serene beauty of the outdoors.

As explained on this Sul Ross University webpage, three students decided they needed someplace quieter than the dorm to study.

Here’s all the info you need to hike Hancock Hill and find the desk. And bonus, bicycle tree!


Hancock Hill desk hike Alpine Texas


While you are at Sul Ross be sure to check out the Museum of the Big Bend too. Admission is $5 per person, free to SRSU students, faculty, and staff with current ID cards.

Location of Hancock Hill Trailhead

The trailhead is at Sul Ross University, behind the Mountainside Hall building. Have a look at the Sul Ross campus map here. Take entrance 4 at Sul Ross.

Wherever you park make sure to check the signage and only park in designated visitor parking areas. Areas designated for visitor parking are marked with white lines or curbing indicating “visitor” and “visitor parking” signs.

Below is a photo of the Hancock Hill trailhead. It’s easy to find when you know where to look.

The hard part is staying on the correct trail once you start walking because there are lots of places for you turn and get going in the wrong direction.


Hancock Hill hike trailhead, cactus and yucca plants

From the trailhead stay on the path straight up the hill


View of Sul Ross Campus from Hancock Hill trailhead

Desk hike trailhead is at Sul Ross University, behind the Mountainside Hall building


Hancock Hill Hike Details

Duration: 2 miles (3 km)

Type of hike: Loop

Elevation gain: 300 ft (91 m)

Difficulty: Easy

Time: Allow 1 to 1.5 hours

Dogs allowed on trail: Yes, bring your furball on this hike, always keep dogs on leash.


Metal office desk atop Hancock hill in Alpine Texas

This desk makes the ultimate remote study environment


Hancock Hill Hike Description

If it’s hot out, then you may want to do this hike early in the day to avoid the midday heat because there is no shade on the trail.

There are beautiful views of Alpine close to the beginning and end of the hike.


Mountains form the backdrop of this view of Alpine Texas from Hancock Hill

Mountains form the backdrop of this view of Alpine Texas from Hancock Hill


Starting out the hike stay on the well worn path and walk straight up the hill. You can expect uneven, rocky terrain at times.


Cactus and yucca plants alongside a dirt trail in Texas

Hiking in the high desert of Alpine Texas


Less than half a mile the trail makes a turn to the right, continue a short distance, about one-eighth mile and turn left at the trail intersection.

From this point there is a small loop, veer to the right to get to the desk. Look in the desk drawers and you’ll find  notebooks and pens and markers.

Sit down for a bit and read the comments people have written in the notebooks and write your own note, poem, whatever you like. There were some heartwarming stories in the notebooks when I visited.

The first notebooks from back in the 1980s now live at Archives of the Big Bend in the Bryan Wildenthal Memorial Library.


Hiker sitting at desk at Hancock Hill hike

Open the drawers of the desk and you’ll find the notebooks and pens


From the desk continue around the loop to the bicycle tree. What is a bicycle tree? I’m glad you asked, it’s just what you may have imagined. A bunch of bicycles in a tree.

Why a bicycle tree?

Why not? LOL


Bicycles chained onto a dead tree on the Hancock Hill trail in Alpine TX

The bicycle tree is not far off from the desk


When you get back to the main trail take a left to continue back down to the trailhead. This portion of the trail has a couple switchbacks and beautiful views of Alpine and Sul Ross Campus.


More Fun Things to Do in Texas

Enchanted Rock hike in Fredericksburg

13 Things to Do in Marfa Texas

Road trip from Austin to Alpine, Marfa, Terlingua and more

Best solo hikes at Big Bend National Park

Fun free things to do in Austin Texas

Chillax on the Texas coast in Rockport and enjoy the outdoors

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Alpine Texas hike to bicycle tree & desk - Only in Texas!

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