El Paso is home to the largest urban wilderness park in the nation: Franklin Mountains State Park! The park offers an array of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, camping, and even rock climbing. It should come as no surprise then, that outdoor enthusiasts find a haven in El Paso. Most recently, the park began hosting the Franklin Mountains Trail Run, an event that draws in some of the country’s most dedicated trail runners. More trail races are coming to El Paso, and there’s no better place to train and prepare at, than the mountains themselves.
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know which trail might be the right choice for your fitness level. We picked five trails within and outside of the park to start with.
Before You Go:
1. For trails located inside the park, make sure to have $5 ready for the entrance fee; children 12 and younger are free.
2. Loose rocks and gravel are a defining characteristic of desert trails, so make sure to wear very sturdy trail running shoes.
3. Depending on the time of the year you decide to embark on your trail run, the El Paso sun is relentless after 10 am. Make sure to slather on plenty of sunscreen and carry lots of water.
4. All the trails in this article are dog-friendly. Make sure to keep your furry friend leashed at all times, and that you carry waste bags and sufficient water.
Once you’re ready, take your pick from the following trails to enjoy a jog at!
1. Aztec Caves Trail, 2 Miles Out & Back (31.90817°N, 106.52546°W): This beautiful trail is a great choice for runners of all abilities, has a climb of 187 feet, and features a sizable cave to enjoy the resulting view and to catch your breath in. To get here, enter Franklin Mountains through the Tom Mays Unit entrance located in West El Paso. The Aztec Caves Trail is dog friendly, and is popular amongst hikers, so keep your eyes on the trail.
2. Mundy’s Gap, 4 Miles Out & Back (31.9157°N, 106.4972°W): Mundy’s Gap is a short, but difficult trail with a steep climb with a 1,011 foot ascent that’s worth the effort. Once you make it to the overlook, the sunset or sunrise views are breathtakingly gorgeous. Make sure to stow a small camera with you to capture the views! Trail is open September through May.
3. Lazy Cow Trail, 7 Miles Out & Back (Chuck Heinrich Park Trailhead, 11055 Loma Norte): To get to Lazy Cow Trail, first you must enter the Old Tin Mine trail via the Chuck Heinrich Park trailhead. The trails will be clearly defined and signs are posted. Though this is a long trail, it is relatively flat and very easy to follow. You can make this run as long or as short as you’d like it to be! Lazy Cow is particularly popular with mountain bikers, so make sure to stay on the right side of the road and be on the lookout. Trail ends at the Bowen Ranch roundhouse.
4. Billy Rogers Arroyo Park Trail, 1.6 Miles (700 E. Robinson Ave.): This trail is one of the easiest on this list and is the only one not located inside Franklin Mountains State Park. The trail is flat, and can be navigated with regular running shoes.
5. Schaeffer Shuffle Trail, 2.6 Miles (31.931477, -106.513236): To access this short and easy loop, enter the park through the Tom Mays Unit, then follow the main road till you’ve reached the very end. The trail head will be located directly behind the brick restrooms. This trail is open from March until October, features blossoming wildflowers, and a stunning view of the canyons and mountain.
Article by CRYSTI COUTURE