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.
Stretching from The Maze and Old Tin Mine Road
to the landmark Bowen Ranch, Lazy Cow is one of the east Franklins' main arterials. It offers an easy route to the northeastern section of the state park, bypassing the more technical and hillier trails closer into the foothills. Lazy Cow also passes through a wide variety of desert plant life, providing an easy opportunity to enjoy much of the Chihuahuan Desert's vegetation.
Beginning on the south side, Lazy Cow's starting point on Old Tin Mine Road
is indicated by both a large sign and trail marker. The singletrack is smooth and flat, with few rocks to contend with in comparison to other area trails. The first half mile winds as it works its way north, crossing three washouts as it progresses. Watch for a rock pile, marking where the trail turns right to parallel Trenchtown Road
, about twenty feet to the north.
Eventually the trail turns north, crossing Trenchtown, and passing a shortcut to the Levee Loop
. It then crosses a wide creek bed; continue straight, and the path picks up again on the other side. The remainder of the trail, about a mile and a half, is much like the initial portion: smooth, mostly straight, and generally flat. Lazy Cow ends at the Bowen Ranch, intersecting with a number of trails and Pipeline Road
. A sign marks the northern end of the trail near the ranch gate.
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.