“A scenic, ridgeline climb looking out over the desert valley.”
— Brendan Ross
Tom Mays Unit is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily. Off-hours access is permitted and is via a small parking area at the gate off of Transmountain. Overnight camping is available.
A ranger station, usually only staffed on weekends in the warmer months, is located a mile inside the entrance. Adult entrance fees are $5 per person, or $2 in groups; children 12 and under are free. When the station is not staffed, use the pay box next to the station.
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. Winds are frequent and gusts over 50 mph are not unusual. Dust storms in the late spring can be hazardous and reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile. Check the weather before you go, and let someone know where you will be.
Rugged and scenic, Upper Sunset completes the eastern portion of the Sunset Loop
. The course traverses the ridgeline of the foothills along Tom Mays Unit. Great views are found throughout the trail.
The northern end of Upper Sunset begins at the end of the Tom Mays access road, near Lower Sunset
and the Lower Sunset Shortcut
. The trail wastes no time in making a quick climb to the top of the ridge, where it stays until it descends back to the other end of Lower Sunset
near the Beginner's Loop
. The path is singletrack and rocky, and occasionally technical due to some tricky footing. It can also be gusty along the top during the windy season. The views are well worth the effort.