“Run through hundreds of ocotillos and desert flora on Lost Dog's most lush trail.”
— Brendan Ross
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 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.
Rising from Del Sol Valley
to the center of the Lost Dog area, Desert Forest passes through a veritable arboretum, filled with almost every type of plant that can be found in the Chihuahuan desert.
From the west side, take a quick right turn off of Del Sol Valley
just before reaching the creek bed; as the path cut through the next five miles is new and not visible on satellite maps, you may need the GPS track to help you locate it. Cross and continue east along the creek bed. The higher concentration of rain which collects in this low area contributes to the ocotillos, lechugillas, agave plants, desert grasses and other plant life surrounding the trail.
After climbing a short hill, the trail meanders back and forth, with a few brief forks, until it reaches Mayberry
. Connections can be made here to the northern trails via Lechugilla Trail
, or continue east to the views on Broke Back
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.