“The main access to trails branching off from the Lost Dog Trailhead, popular and sometimes crowded.”
— Brendan Ross
Features: Wildflowers — Wildlife
Trails around the Franklin Mountains are often rocky and technical, so runners unfamiliar with rough terrain should use caution. Trail shoes with rock plates are strongly recommended.
El Paso is in the desert, so be wise about the climate. Summers are regularly in the 90's or above, winters will drop to the 30's and 40's. Lightning storms are frequent in the late afternoons during the warmer months. Winds are frequent and gusts over 50 mph are not unusual. Dust storms, strongest in the late spring, can be hazardous and reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile. Check the weather before you go, and let someone know where you will be.
Mountain biking is popular in the Lost Dog area, and while runners have the right of way over cyclists, it's often the safer option to step or run to the side to allow them to pass. Sometimes you'll get thanked, but usually not - but better to be a good user of the trail than to end up in a cactus, tangled in some guy's derailleur.
Picking up after the Lost Dog Trail
passes the water tank, Lechugilla is the central trail into the western Franklin Mountains from the trailhead. The grade is a steady incline as it climbs towards Transmountain Road, but is rarely difficult. The trail remains roughly four to eight feet wide throughout its length, making passing easy (and it's not hard to catch bikes going uphill), but is rocky in some short segments. Despite that, Lechugilla is one of the "cleanest" trails in the area and is one of the few suited for speed workouts, provided that runners keep their eyes on the terrain.
Because it is central and less technical than other trails in the area, Lechugilla is the most heavily trafficked part of the system. Expect mountain bikers, runners, hikers, and dogs (often off-leash).
Roughly 0.6 miles into Lechugilla, the trail passes a second water tank and the access road. Another trail to the north parallels the route just taken if one wants to return to the trailhead; otherwise, the next intersection is another .6 miles ahead and is marked by a signpost indicating the state park boundary. A short connection to Grim Road
Trail is about a mile further ahead, and the path dead ends about a quarter mile after that into a north-south trail near Transmountain Road.
Flora & Fauna
The Franklins are filled with desert wildlife and you'll have the chance to see all sorts of plants and animals on a run. Vegetation is best during the rainy months around summer when the desert blooms and the plants turn green. Jackrabbits, lizards and roadrunners are common, occasionally snakes will be on or near the trail. Watch for rattlers and give them a wild berth. If you get caught out past sundown, you may hear a few coyotes. Their howls are unnerving, but they generally leave people alone.