Franklin Mountain State Park
Labor Day 2014
|South and North Franklin Mountains|
My unit had a little time off over Labor Day and our commander let us go out and explore. My initial research on the park’s website was a little disappointing. Their map shows the general parking areas, but does not really give much information concerning the trails. On the other hand, the park does seem to be working towards a much grander vision. The website says they are working on a network which will eventually have over 100 miles of trails. This would be a pretty awesome Texas-sized Central Park.
One of the major things that struck me about hiking here was how underused the park was. Had this been Chataqua Park in Boulder on Labor Day Weekend I suspect we would have been hard pressed to find a site at 8 am (when we pulled in), but here there was still plenty of parking. On the hike up and at the summit, we had the mountain to ourselves. On the way down we saw about 15 people (which for a beautiful and sunny Labor Day seemed pretty light).
For our hike we chose North Franklin Mountain – the highest point in the park at around 7,180 ft (according to Google Earth). We started from what I will call the Agave Trailhead (this is what Google Maps lists it as if you plug in the GPS coordinates).
North Franklin Mountain Hike Stats
One-way length: 3.8 miles
Vertical gain: 2,359 ft
North Franklin Mountain: 31.902800°, -106.493627°
Ascent time (with breaks): 2 hours
West Cottonwood Spring Trail
|West Cottonwoods Springs Trail (left), Agave Trail (right)|
Length: 0.5 miles
Gain: ~480 ft
|The ankle-eating rocks of the West Cottonwood Springs Trail|
|Agave Trail to the top and West Cottonwood Springs Trail to the bottom|
Length: 0.8 miles
Gain: ~535 ft
Intersection with West Cottonwood Springs Trail: 31.914777°, -106.501168°
Mundy’s Gap Trail
Gain: 825 ft
Start: 31.914764°, -106.500702°
From here the footing got easier. From the start of this section you can see the summit and a good scrambler / climber could cut off a mile or two, although probably not that much time. We opted for the official route which follows a more gradual climb. From the information boards at the trailhead, North Franklin Mountain was apparently originally intended as the site of some towers and even had some initial grading done at the summit. But the El Pasans revolted and the land became a park instead. However, the initial work on the summit meant that this trail and the North Franklin Trail are old roads. As such, the hike is not overly technical beyond some loose footing.
|Mundy's Gap Trail - just past the gap|
North Franklin Mountain Trail
|Start of the North Franklin Mountain Trail|
There are a lot of switchbacks with great views of the rest of the mountain chain, El Paso and Ft.Bliss.
The summit is flat with great views of New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
|Looking north from the summit|