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 will be.
Palisades Canyon Loop is a tough, technical singletrack clinging to the eastern side of a canyon, completing a circuit with Monk's Trail
The northern end of the trail breaks off from Monk's about halfway through the latter. There is no sign or other markings showing the beginning, so look for a narrow singletrack heading off to the northeast just before Monk's turns west.
Narrower, rockier, and more devoid of plant life than the trails that lead to it, the Loop is tough. It'll be a wearying, technical quarter-mile climb to the trail's high point, but a nice view of downtown El Paso and Ciudad Juarez await at the top. A small rock cairn marks an intersection here with Colombian Connection
, a short segment leading to the maintenance road.
Continuing on the Loop, the trail now makes an even steeper quarter-mile descent. This can be a fairly challenging section if taking the trail in reverse. Even downhill, the trail can be a tricky go the footing is loose at times and there are trip hazards everywhere. On the way, look for two fun-looking bike jumps, one passing through
two palm trees. As evidenced by the jumps, this trail may be a better one for cyclists. For runners, the constant rock dodging can be very tiring.
As the Loop reaches the arroyo at the base of the canyon, it becomes indistinct. Stay to the left. The GPS track can help, but the general idea is to follow the wash down and out. The arroyo bottom is extremely rocky and sometimes hazardous. Be careful on the steeper descents.
Palisades Canyon Loop ends back at Monk's Trail
near Palisades Canyon Access Road
. If beginning the trail from this side, it can be hard to find. Look for a singletrack headed into the arroyo where Monk's turns clockwise around the western hill.