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.
Tu Madre breaks off from Coyote Ugly
about a half mile after the latter leaves Bowen Ranch. While there isn't any sort of marker, the beginning is clearly visible after Coyote Ugly
climbs out from a dry creek bed segment, with lechugilla stalks lining the initial portion.
The trail is a gritty singletrack, with a few smaller rocks but nothing particularly difficult. After a short eastern portion, it turns and makes a gentle climb along the side of a hill to the northwest. A large number of cacti grow alongside the path. About a third of a mile in, the trail joins a washout area for a few hundred feet, becoming a little bit more rocky and technical but easily manageable.
While the trail is much thicker in vegetation and foliage than others in the area, after the wash out segment, it breaks into an unusually green clearing with trees and grass. Both are rarities in the desert. At the right times of year, especially in spring, a large number of Mexican Gold poppies can be found growing here as well. Shortcuts to Pipeline Road
can be taken to the east from here. Otherwise, continue on the trail a short distance further. A singletrack shortcut to Rocky Road
forks to the left before the trail ends.
Tu Madre finishes just south of a gate on Pipeline Road
, across from Down Under
. While Down Under
is marked with rock cairns, Tu Madre is not, something to be aware of if beginning on this end.
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.