“A loop exploring Hitt Canyon, alternating between creekbed, dirt road, and singletrack.”
— Brendan Ross
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 will be.
Hitt Canyon Loop is found at the far northeastern corner of Franklin Mountains State Park, connecting the eastside trails to Tom Mays Unit via Northern Pass
. It is located at the mouth of its namesake canyon and marks the northern end of the Franklin range.
A number of trails intersect the loop. Starting from the west side connection with Northern Pass
and proceeding clockwise, Hitt Canyon Loop begins as a well-marked singletrack. Rocks have been placed along the side to delineate the path. It descends down a hill and merges into a flat, fairly clean dry wash.
The trail continues in this creekbed for about three quarters of a mile. The exit point is unmarked and difficult to find; the best way to proceed is to use the GPS track and look for the segment you'll be joining, a former dirt road, on a satellite view app like Google Maps. The transition may require some pathfinding, which isn't difficult among the sparse desert plant life. Watch for cacti.
Like the wash portion, the dirt road is an easy run. It proceeds east and intersects with another dirt road, where the trail turns south. This section is a little more rocky and features two brief, steep climbs. Just after the two mile point, the trail turns right at yet another dirt road near a bathroom.
This section is better maintained and more frequently traveled than the prior portion of the loop, but runners looking for a more interesting route may want to take Hitt It, which generally parallels the loop's southern segment. In any case, the trail begins an easy climb back towards the mountains, with a few state park markers showing the correct path at turnoffs.
A short detour to a canyon viewpoint turns south where the trail passes a small windmill near the three-mile point. At four miles, branches across the dirt road mark where the trail turns north and back to singletrack. After a quick arroyo crossing, it meets back at its start point and the intersection with Northern Pass