By: Austin North
El Paso’s landscape is so unique and beautiful that it is an absolute must for one to do a little outdoor exploration every once in a while. With the massive Franklin Mountains State Park embedded right through the middle of the city, there are so many opportunities for wholesome and fun exploration, be it by walking, climbing or biking. With such a wide variety of options, the most difficult part won’t be hiking the trails themselves—it’ll be picking which one to start on!
The Franklin Mountains State Park hosts a plethora of these different trails, ranging from easy to extremely challenging hikesand rides. Start your adventure off at the Tom Mays Unit, one of the most accessible locations in the park that functions as the jumping off point for many of the trails found throughout the park. For those serious thrill seekers, Sneed’s Cory is a uniquely shaped rock face that boasts over 17 different climbing routes, perfect for those who want the versatility to try something new every time. For those who like to keep their feet—or tires—on the ground, check out the trail up to the North Franklin Peak, a challenging 8-mile trek to the highest point in the park. While this trail provides some incredible views, do not fret—there are significantly less-challenging walks and hikes in the area that provide similar sightseeing opportunities, such as any of the nature trails or smaller hiking trailheads found in the Tom Mays portion of the park.
The park provides activities for people of all ages. Kids will love the hike to the Tin Mines, found elsewhere in the park with the trailhead starting at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park. This hike is definitely a day trip, given that six miles is quite the walk for kids, but the elevation remains relatively constant throughout, making it a leisurely day trip. The mines themselves are a fascinating snapshot of El Paso history, and are a blast to explore and take in at the climax of the hike.
In addition to hiking trails, there are large amounts of bike trails found throughout the park that are frequently used for races and events, and are open to the public to enjoy as well. Ranging from total beginner trails to steep, rocky and slim trails meant only for mountain biking experts, there is something for everyone looking to exercise and adventure at the Franklin Mountains State Park. Most bike paths have an abundance of shortcuts available in case they get too extreme, and most of the beginner paths can be conveniently found in the Tom Mays portion of the park.
Don’t let the weather get the better of you—beat the heat, bring some water and come hiking at the Franklin Mountains State Park. It is good fun and great exercise for all ages, and will truly help you fall back in love with the beauty of the city through the abundance of gorgeous views and friendly people throughout the park.