Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Tom Mays Unit is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily. Off-hours access is permitted and is via a small parking area at the gate off of Transmountain. Overnight camping is available.
A ranger station, usually only staffed on weekends in the warmer months, is located a mile inside the entrance. Adult entrance fees are $5 per person, or $2 in groups; children 12 and under are free. When the station is not staffed, use the pay box next to the station.
Trails around the Franklin Mountains are often rocky and technical, so users unfamiliar with rough terrain should use caution. Trail shoes with rock plates are strongly recommended.
El Paso is in the desert, so plan around 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 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'll be.
Running the length of the Tom Mays Unit access road, the Tom Mays Trail is a good alternative for users who wish to avoid pavement, with connections to every trail in the Northwest Franklins.
The trailhead is located at the park entrance off of Transmountain Drive, just to the right of the main sign in the small parking area. The path begins as an old dirt access road, generally paralleling the paved road to the north. At the half mile point, the dirt road veers off to the right and the trail continues as singletrack. The next half mile is a steady but easy climb up a hill near the ranger station.
The rest of the trail is generally flat, crossing roads and parking lots with access to other area trails. Mundy's Gap
, Agave Loop
, the Nature Trail and Aztec Caves
all split off over the next mile. Use caution in the section across from the park service maintenance building, as the trail is eroded and easy to lose.
The trail ends in the middle of the access road loop, near the trailheads for Upper Sunset
, Lower Sunset
, and Schaeffer Shuffle
Flora & Fauna
Expect typical desert flora and fauna: cacti, sotols, yuccas, sumacs, an abundance of wildflowers in the spring and after summer rains, rabbits, and birds.
Shared By: Brendan Ross