“A cliffside trail that climbs to a stunning viewpoint on Lost Dog's signature route.”
— Brendan Ross
Features: Views — 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, and 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, and better to be a good user of the trail than to end up in a cactus, tangled in some guy's derailleur.
Broke Back, in the center of the Lost Dog area, has it all: a flat section through a desert garden area, followed by a cliffside looking out over the foothills before an undulating climb to a hilltop vista of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. The climbs are enough to keep a run interesting without being inaccessible to less-experienced athletes, and connections can be made to almost any access point of the Lost Dog trail system.
Taking a counterclockwise route, Broke Back begins with a connection from Baby Head
. As the initial section of the trail is a new route and somewhat faint, looking for a rock cairn marking the turnoff or following a GPS track may help in locating it. The trail winds toward Broke Back hill directly ahead, making a sharp turn south at the base for a single switchback into a scenic cliffside trail. Keep an eye out for ocotillo branches and rocks laid out to help mark the turn.
On the north side of the hill, the trail meets two segments leading to North Broke Back with continuing access to the northern trails. Continue south on the hill's west face past a seesaw for mountain bikes, dipping briefly before an easy climb to the top of the hill's southern high point and a nice view of the valley. From here, it is a gradual descent back down to Mayberry
, the southern terminus of Baby Head
, and La Espina Ledge
Flora & Fauna
The Franklins are filled with desert wildlife, and you'll have the chance to see all sorts of plants and animals on the 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, and 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.