“A dirt access road connecting to the trails of Palisades Canyon.
— Brendan Ross
According to the sign at the trailhead, Palisades Canyon is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. With no clearly defined boundary between the Palisades area and State Park property, it's unclear where the restriction is supposed to be applied, and is not enforced anyway.
The trails in the southwest section of Franklin Mountains State Park are among the most rugged and technical in the area. Trail shoes are strongly recommended. Also be mindful of mountain bikers using the trail. It can be difficult to give way to runners while finding a good line, so the best option may be to make room for them to pass.
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'll be.
This access road leading through Palisades Canyon is the lower starting point for the southernmost trails of the Franklin Mountains. The trailhead is located on the northern end of Robinson Avenue, near the tip of Arroyo Park
. A sign and vehicle gate mark the entry point. Vehicles should be parked along the shoulder on the southern end of Robinson; do not block the vehicle gate.
Look for a narrow path just left of the sign to avoid having to climb over the gate. After a hundred feet, it merges back to the access road. From here, the dirt road follows the left side of Palisades Canyon. The road condition can vary greatly depending on weather; after thunderstorms, debris frequently washes down from the mountains. Washboarding on the dirt can be a problem as well. Thankfully, these problems are usually no more than an inconvenience. Steer clear of the branch to the right that heads up the mountain, as access to the top is restricted to maintenance vehicles.
The road connects to the canyon's two main trails, Monk's Trail
and Palisades Canyon Loop
(via Palisades Shortcut
), less than a quarter mile in. After that, the road continues on its own until passing two more connectors a half mile later.
There is little reason to continue past the intersection with Palisades Connector
, but runners choosing to do so will circle counterclockwise around Crazy Cat hill, coming to the road's end at a water tank on the top. The neighborhood beyond the tank is private and gated.