“A steep, difficult rock scramble to the top of Ranger Peak.
— Brendan Ross
Views · Wildflowers
Wyler Aerial Tramway is generally open Friday through Sunday, with additional openings around major holidays. It may be closed during windy days. Tickets for the tram are $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12.
Outside of tram hours, the trail is still accessible, though the entrance gate is closed. Visitors will have to run the road leading up to the tram, adding an extra half mile to the distance.
This trail is the steepest in the El Paso area and features areas of scrambling and climbing. No special equipment is needed, but it should only be attempted by runners in good physical condition. Use particular caution if descending from the top.
El Paso is in the desert, so be mindful of 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 40 mph are not unusual. Dust storms, strongest 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.
Directissimo is a difficult, rugged climb from the base of the Wyler Aerial Tramway to the northern end of the Ranger Peak trails. The trailhead is located at the corner of the tramway parking lot near a large sign. Visitors are requested to check in at the tram office, though it is not required.
The singletrack leading up from the trailhead is very rough. Consisting of the various types of mineral deposits making up the Franklin Mountains, the rocks are more of a loose debris feel than the scree runoff which can be found in other nearby locations, such as West Cottonwood Spring
. The footing is often loose and the steep incline can make climbing the trail even more difficult.
However, runners taking on the challenging climb of Directissimo are rewarded by the views. Vistas to the east reach far into the distance, and a huge portion of the El Paso - Ciudad Juarez metroplex can be seen from most parts of the trail. The close-in scenery of desert plant life is impressive as well, with huge numbers of cacti and sotols growing alongside the path. These can be a hindrance on occasion when their sharp leaves grow into the trail, but flora is cut back by rangers on a semi-regular basis. The trail is also well-marked, making it easy to follow for the most part.
Directissimo is a series of constant twists and turns as it climbs the mountain. A few benches are placed strategically where there is enough room, allowing for scenic breaks. A difficult cling to the cliffside around the third-mile point passes over agaves which have grown into the path. Look for a dying palm tree marking this spot, and step carefully to avoid catching any of the thick agave blades. This also marks where the most difficult section of trail begins. Many parts will require some scrambling and climbing, and the track can be easy to lose. Look ahead carefully to assess the path, and compare positions with the GPS route to stay on course.
A turnoff for Jackaloop Trail
is at the half mile point and is the fastest way to the tramway. A few more difficult scrambles follow before the trail levels out at the ridgeline. A final bench and a protected logbook mark the end of Directissimo, and the beginning point of Ranger Peak Loop