Features: Views — Wildflowers
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.
Filled with desert plant life and impressive views, Newman Trail is one of the Franklin Mountains State Park's best routes. From its southern end, Newman begins at the intersection with Sotol Forest
and Rocky Road
. Don't mistake the overgrown 4x4 tracks headed along the arroyo for the trail; the singletrack for Newman is just north of a sign marking its starting point.
The path, a continuation of Sotol Forest
, is relatively smooth and less rocky than others in the area. It begins as a steady but uncomplicated climb towards the mountains to the west. Great views of the Franklins and eastern flatlands surround this area, and the trail is surrounded by all sorts of desert plant life. Like the trails to the south, sotols are particularly dense here, and watch for any growing into the trail. Thankfully, Newman is well maintained, with most offending plants cut back.
As it climbs, Newman continues along the southern side of a hill rising over a canyon. The orange-red dirt of crushed rhyolite starts to become more apparent here. At the end of the canyon, the trail wraps around to its north side and keeps climbing. Watch for a number of huge barrel cacti on the sides of the trail, which bloom in the summer.
The path turns north and reaches its high point just after a mile. An impressive view of Hitt Canyon, the northern end of the Franklins, and the Organ Mountains outside of Las Cruces is laid out to the north. The trail then turns west, again circling canyons cut into the mountainside, and makes an easy descent over the next mile. Newman Trail ends at Hitt Canyon Loop
, near the turnoff for Hitt Itt
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.