ElevationAscent: 232' 71 m
Descent: -60' -18 m
High: 4,404' 1,342 m
Low: 4,229' 1,289 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 7% (4°)
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“A long, straight dirt road connecting to several east side trails and Bowen Ranch.”— Brendan Ross
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.
The trail begins on the south end at Levee Loop, across from a detention pond gate. The entirety of the trail is a dirt road, with conditions moving from good to mediocre as it proceeds north; this initial segment is the best section and has few rocks to contend with. The orange Spanish tile roofs of Bowen Ranch are immediately visible a mile away. The path has some very gentle ups and downs but is generally flat and very easy. Creosote bushes grow thick here, and given the good trail condition and denser vegetation, this is probably the nicest segment of dirt road to run in the entire Franklin Mountains trail system.
Pipeline Road passes the west side of Bowen Ranch, where five trails converge. It continues north through an open gate in a straight line. It gradually becomes more rocky as it proceeds, passing turnoffs to Bowen Loop on the right and shortcuts to Tu Madre on the left. Just before the two-mile point, a small rock cairn marks the entrance to Down Under on the right but not Tu Madre directly across. The trail then comes to a locked gate, which it passes around on the right, and an unnecessary pay station miles from any parking area. The trail is now in Franklin Mountains State Park land. Rocky Road turns off to the left shortly thereafter.
The remainder of the trail continues to become more rocky and uneven, making a steady but mild climb as it crosses a few dry riverbeds. An outhouse maintained by the park is located near the end, with the unmarked but visible intersection of Hitt Itt and Down Under directly after. The trail ends at the southeastern corner of Hitt Canyon Loop; the road continues north as part of that trail's eastern segment. While the former road actually goes beyond Hitt Canyon Loop, it is severely degraded and doesn't lead anywhere, and is thus not marked here.
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.
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Land Manager: Texas Parks and Wildlife - Franklin Mountains State Park