El Paso County High Point Trip Report

North Franklin Mountain (7,192 ft)

Date: December 31, 1999
Author: Scott Surgent

With the new year/century/millennium approaching, I decided I would go for a nice long drive and bag a few peaks along the way. The ultimate destination of my drive was Big Bend National Park in West Texas. To get there, I'd have to pass through El Paso, hence it made sense to break my drive into smaller portions and hike the El Paso city/county highpoint as well.

I left Phoenix on the 30th, and after 5 hours on Interstate-10, arrived in El Paso in the mid-afternoon. It was too late in the day to hike North Franklin, so I stayed at a Motel-8 in the town of Anthony. The Franklin Mountains neatly separate El Paso into two halves, the east side and the west side, with downtown being south of where the mountains end. The next day, I drove to the trailhead (open from 8-5 every day) in the Franklin Mountains Preserve on the west side of the range along Loop-375 (I-10 exit 6). The day was cloudy but I could see clear sky off in the distance so I figured the clouds would blow away soon, which they did.

The hike starts along an old road which is closed to vehicles, enters a canyon, and makes two very long switchbacks up very old roads that have long since degenerated into footpaths. After about 2 miles and 1,000 feet of gain, I arrived at Mundy's Gap along the main ridge. The trail drops slightly on the other side, then junctions and begins a steady climb to the summit. At this time, the trail is a jeep track that does appear to get some use now and then. There is no forest cover and the views are expansive.

As I was hiking up these roads, I had the pleasure to watch two buck deer lock antlers and fight for a few minutes. They didn't see me. Eventually they split and ran off, and I resumed my hike. I arrived at the summit after 2 hours on the trail.

There was snow on the ground, although quickly melting in the 50-degree weather. The summit has been graded flat. A little solar-powered something-or-other sits atop the summit. It was breezy so I sat on the lee-side of this metallic thingymajob and ate my lunch and looked out over El Paso, parts of Mexico to the south and west, the Organ Mountains to the north, and miles of desert to the east. Beautiful views.

After a half-hour, I headed down and was back to my truck exactly four hours after having started the hike. This is a very nice hike up a desert peak, although the road cut into the side of the mountain is rather unattractive. I exited El Paso via the Fort Bliss Army Reservation, met up with I-10 and drove a few hours to the town of Alpine, about 230 miles Southeast of El Paso.