Paso del Norte
One doesn’t often associate El Paso, Texas with great natural beauty, but it’s there if you look for it. Tired of spending time in the city, we wanted to get out and get active. A long walk was in order. But where?
The Franklin Mountains are the longest sustained mountain range in Texas. Overlooking the Rio Grande, they form the northern section of the Paso del Norte (the Pass of the North). As stated on the State Park website, “For thousands of years, Native Americans, and for the last four centuries, soldiers, priests, traders, adventurers, gold-seekers, entrepreneurs, and just plain folk have passed through the gap in both directions in an endless procession of expansion, settlement, raiding and conquest.” The harsh, dry landscape of this far west Texas Mountain Trail region is rich in history.
Franklin Mountains State Park
Several hiking trails are accessible off of McKelligon Canyon Road, and Franklin Mountains State Park is a wonderful place for long afternoon hike. You can check out additional opportunities for rock climbing around McKelligon Canyon as well. We followed the Ron Coleman Trail up to the Ridge, but we’re not sure exactly how we came back down! On our walk, we found a number of shallow caves which were very handy for taking a break out of the sun. Desert blooms dotted our vision, and we were rewarded at higher altitudes with sweeping vistas of the Chihuahuan Desert and the cities of El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico below. Back at the bottom, the exterior temp on our truck was reading 99 degrees, so if you hike in summer, don’t forget to bring lots of water to keep adequately hydrated. The path isn’t always well-marked, and there are a number of gullies that can’t be crossed. We had to backtrack an hour or so for just that reason, even though we could see the parking lot below!
Entrance to the park is $5. Guided tours/hikes are available the first and third weekends of each month. Call ahead to acquire the hiking schedule and to make your reservations: (915) 566-6441. While you’re in the area, also be sure to visit the nearby Hueco Tanks State Historic Site, which includes spectacular rock art.