Tour de Lost Dog
ElevationAscent: 1,900' 579 m
Descent: -1,900' -579 m
High: 4,863' 1,482 m
Low: 4,161' 1,268 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 26% (15°)
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“Experience hills, canyons, vistas, cacti, and millions of rocks in this loop of the Lost Dog trails.”— Brendan Ross
Parking is available in a lot near the trailhead, near the intersection of Redd and Helen of Troy.
There is very little shade on the Lost Dog trails. Come prepared with more water than you think you'll need.
Finally... Do. Not. Touch. The. Cacti. Other than the spines, many types of cactus are covered in glochids, tiny barbed hairs which can become embedded by the hundreds, causing skin irritation. They're best removed by duct tape or spreading white glue over the area and removing it when dry, but whatever you do, don't use your mouth. Larger spines, on the other hand, pull straight out. And make wonderful souvenirs.
The Lost Dog area is maintained almost entirely by volunteers, so some sections may suffer from erosion after storms. The trails are popular among mountain bikers. Keep in mind that it may be safest to step off narrow sections of trail to allow them to pass, regardless of right of way.
A few areas provide opportunities to cut the route short, but runners willing to meet the challenges of this desert mountain trail will find it rewarding and fun. Keeping track of the many different trail changes can be difficult, so download the GPX track or use the Trail Run Project mobile app to stay on course.
The first turn is at the intersection with Mayberry, with a quick exit to the right onto Dead Valentine's North only a few hundred feet after. This is one of the more technical segments of the route. The trail winds downhill, crossing over to Dead Valentine's South and dropping into Del Sol Valley. Watch for two washout areas here. After a quick climb up and back down a hill, the trail becomes interesting at Desert Forest, passing through hundreds of towering ocotillos.
At the top, the path continues a winding climb on Mayberry to the top of La Espina hill. This is the first of four sweeping hilltop views, looking out into Texas, Mexico, and New Mexico. A precipitous drop on the west face of the hill circles around to Granola Bowl, which climbs back up to a short cliffside segment before joining Mayberry once again. A turnoff to the east on Tin Mine Hill begins the connection to the southeastern side of Lost Dog at the base of Little Moab hill.
The climb here along the east face is tiring but offers a nice view of the foothills and Transmountain Drive. The trail connects into Baby Head, which, true to its name, is filled with large rocks that require careful navigation. The turnoff to the third hill, Broke Back, isn't far ahead, and is an up-and-down rollercoaster which circles around to a narrow cliffside segment looking over arroyos a hundred feet below. After a brief flat section, Broke Back merges back into Baby Head, where runners will again have to contend with large rocks before meeting the eastern end of Lechugilla Trail.
The next mile and a half is a series of quick trail and connector changes, moving from Lechugilla Trail to Grim Road to 10 Minutes of Hell to Brujos Connector. Grim Road is some of the most treacherous terrain on the loop, littered with scree. The Viewpoint trail doubles back north as Brujos. A short, fun scramble breaks off to the left soon thereafter, rejoining the main path a few hundred feet later. The zig zags end as the trail heads back west on the wide El Refri. From here, it's mostly downhill for the remainder of the journey.
Worm splits off from the trail near the I Love You rock, depicted in a picture here on the site. The hilltop ridge forks right at El Paso del Norte, which the run follows. Be careful to not mistake a washout area for the trail when descending into the arroyo at the end of this segment. Double back east at the bottom onto the western portion of Worm, climbing to Worm Shortcut and the final ridgeline section.
The trail descends down a section of scree and meets Lost Dog Trail, which it follows back to the trailhead.
Animals are mostly limited to jackrabbits, lizards, and small birds. Roadrunners will dart across the trail at times, and hawks circle overhead, looking for prey. Coyotes are hard to spot and tend to only come out after dusk, though they leave runners alone.
Keep an eye out for snakes. They avoid the hot desert sun and are more common during the winter months. Most are harmless, but rattlers are a part of the local wildlife. Give them a wide berth, and if they're blocking the trail, tossing a few rocks in their direction tends to be enough incentive for them to leave.
At over 24,000 acres, Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban park in the nation. Many more trails exist for runners, hikers and bikers to explore in the area, and a number of interesting outings can be found within a few hours drive in Las Cruces, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and throughout southern New Mexico.
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Land Manager: Texas Parks and Wildlife - Franklin Mountains State Park