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On Walkabout On: North Franklin Mountain, Texas – Part 1

Basic Information

  • Name: North Franklin Mountain
  • Max Elevation: 7,192 feet (2,192 meters)
  • Where: El Paso, Texas
  • Distance: 7.8 miles
  • Time: 4-6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,052 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • More Information: Texas State Parks website

Narrative

The Franklin Mountains run through the center of El Paso, Texas and is the largest urban park in the entire United States.  Since the mountains run right through the city of El Paso and stops only for the mighty Rio Grande River, it causes the city to be shaped like a horseshoe around this mountain range:

The highest peak in the entire range is North Franklin Mountain, which rises slightly above the other peaks in the range at an altitude of 7,192 feet (2,192 meters).  Here is an aerial picture of the Franklin Mountains that run through the middle of El Paso, Texas:

To put this into perspective for readers from Down Under, this mountain is roughly the same height as the highest mountain in all of Australia Mt. Kosciuscko, which is 7,310 feet (2,228 meters).  As you can see from this picture North Franklin Mountain is nowhere near as green and beautiful as Mt. Kosciuscko, but it is scenic in its own way:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

I planned to hike to the summit of the mountain on this day and judging from the absolutely clear weather, it was the perfect day for a walk.  So from the parking lot at the trailhead I proceeded up the trail and walked by what is know as the Red Bluff where I could see the remains of a long sealed off mine:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

I think copper was mined from this area, but I am not sure.  Anyway as I continued up the trail the reason this rock outcropping is called the Red Bluff became quite clear:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

There are plenty of rocks and dirt to look at in the Franklin Mountains, but the plants of the native Chihuahuan Desert adds a little color to the browness of the desert:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

As I continued to ascend up the zigzagging trail I admired the large rock formations above me:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

Look back down the trail I could see the trail I had just came up through the gap of the Red Bluff:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

As can be seen the trail leading up North Franklin Mountain is actually an old four wheel drive road which makes for some easy hiking:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

Here is a view looking back down the mountain towards the parking lot where my truck was parked:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

From a far you can’t really tell how many red rocks the Franklin Mountains has until you get up close and hike up these mountains:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

By now I had worked up a pretty good sweat due to the steady ascent up the mountain and up ahead of me I could see that I had a long way to go before I could reach the summit.  The trail eventually goes right by the base of the mountain’s summit but the trail then continues to the north away from the peak.  The trail eventually ascends up to a gap in the mountain range called Mundy’s Gap:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

Here there are park benches to sit on and this is the area that many people stop and take in the views before walking back to the parking lot:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

However, I was going to continue all the way to the summit of the mountain.  I did take a minute to sit down, drink some water, and enjoy the views of the east side of El Paso before continuing on down the trail:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

As I headed towards the peak I could see I had a long way to go as the trail zig zagged up the side of the mountain:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

As I continued down the trail I looked back towards Mundy’s Gap that sits below this prominent rocky peak:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

Not far from Mundy’s Gap I came to sign where the trail forks with one way going to a tin mine down on the east side of the mountain and the other trail heading up to the summit of North Franklin Mountain, which was where I was going:

Picture from North Franklin Mountain, Texas

Next Posting: North Franklin Mountain, Texas – Part 2

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