“Switchback from a hilltop ridge into a desert gulch on this winding trail.”
— Brendan Ross
Wildflowers · Wildlife
The 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.
Beginning from the northern terminus with El Refri
, Worm meanders southwest on a hilltop ridgeline, passing between numerous desert plants and cacti. The singletrack here is generally flat and free of rocks. After about a quarter mile, a turnoff to the west onto El Paso del Norte
follows the ridge, while Worm splits off onto a new one to the southwest as an arroyo opens between the two.
A half mile further, Worm takes a sudden switchback turn to the right; Worm Shortcut
continues straight ahead. A quick descent of about a hundred feet places the trail into a desert gulch. From here, the trail becomes a bit more technical, weaving west between hills before eventually meeting up again with El Refri
and El Paso del Norte
. The trail then hugs the hillside as it circles counterclockwise, ending at the junction of Worm Shortcut
and Lost Dog Trail
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.