“This steady incline to the central Franklins passes through a number of interesting desert plants.”
— Brendan Ross
Wildflowers · Wildlife
As residential development near the foothills continues, access to the starting points for North Clyde's Trail
and South Clyde's Trail may change. For now, the trails are reached by parking at the eastern end of either Desert Night or Desert Whisper and crossing the open field to the beginning of the trails.
The good news is that development has reached the boundary of the state park and can't proceed any further east. While parking locations may change on the map here, the trails will not.
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 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.
While initially more trouble to access than North Clyde's Trail
, the South version of this west-east route is a smoother passage towards the mountains. Following the spread of home development into the Franklin Hills neighborhood in 2012, the initial section of South Clyde's, which extended out of state park boundaries, was bulldozed. To find where it picks up, continue east past the end of Franklin Dove Avenue to the southeast corner of the cleared field. An arroyo runs just south of this area; look across to the corner of the Hornedo Middle School athletic fields. The trail can be seen climbing out of the gulch.
Pick up the pathway here and follow it around the middle school. The route will cross a dry creek bed before turning east alongside another one, which it will cross three or four times over the next half mile. The trail parallels a dirt service road on the top of the hill to the south.
The last half mile of South Clyde's is a steeper climb, much like its neighbor to the north. However, the ascent here is far less rocky and passes through more lush desert plant life. The trail ends at Thunderbird
, across from the challenging Transmountain Summit
Flora & Fauna
The Franklins are filled with desert wildlife and you'll have the chance to see all sorts of plants and animals on trail. 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.