Trail Run Project Logo

Mule Shoe



0.6 mile 1.0 kilometer point to point
98% Runnable


Ascent: 54' 16 m
Descent: -50' -15 m
High: 4,663' 1,421 m
Low: 4,616' 1,407 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Brendan Ross

A short but technical and fun loop over rock formations and through desert plantlife.

Brendan Ross

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Runner Notes

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. Check the weather before you go, and let someone know where you will be.


One of the most interesting and fun trails in Franklin Mountains State Park, Mule Shoe would be as a popular nature trail if it weren't for its technicality and the challenge in reaching it. As it is, that makes it a hidden gem. A wide variety of desert fauna is packed into its short distance, and the trail passes over a number of Precambrian rock formations, with stripes marking ancient sedimentation layers. Wildlife also frequently congregates in the area.

The loop is best taken clockwise, as it is easier to stay on the trail. Signs mark both ends. The trail winds throughout its length, frequently doubling back on itself. Many sections will cross over flat rock and are less visible. Look for hints left by previous runners and bikers to mark the path: broken pieces of bark, lines of rocks, and other things that appear out of place are all good indicators.

The twisting, up and down path lasts a little over half a mile before ending a short distance up Blue Moon from its starting point.

Flora & Fauna

Desert plants tend to bloom in waves in spring and summer after the short periods of rain that El Paso experiences. Ocotillo tend to turn green and blossom first, followed by barrel and claret cup cacti, and finally flowers and prickly pears. The northeast area of the Franklins features a greater number of lechugilla than other regions.

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 visitors 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.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In



Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes


  3.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in Texas


4 Views Last Month
153 Since Sep 29, 2015



Looking west from the trail, prickly poppies
Apr 20, 2018 near Westway, TX
View of Cardiac Hill from the trail
Apr 20, 2018 near Westway, TX
Looking west from the trail
Apr 20, 2018 near Westway, TX
View of  Franklin Mountains from the trail
Apr 20, 2018 near Westway, TX