El Paso County High Point Trip Report
North Franklin Mtn (7,192 ft)
Date: October 27, 2002
Author: Adam Helman
This county was part of a larger trip wherein I claimed seven New Mexico and western Texas counties.
A review of this trip
is available. Within this trip I had also done Lincoln and Otero Counties in New Mexico with Edward Earl.
Edward had suggested El Paso County as a backup plan in case weather precluded a safe and sane attempt on
Organ Needle of Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Indeed, the weather left something to be desired
for his entire time with me on this trip.
Approach and Hike Description
North Franklin Mountain is located immediately west of El Paso and is accessed from Interstate 10 as the latter
heads over the Franklin Mountains on the way to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
From the pass on I-10 drive west and locate an exit after about two miles. Take it (north). After a short distance
you come to a carpark at the gated entrance to the Franklin Mountain State Park. Although you can certainly
start your climb at this point, it will be some 500 vertical feet more and some one mile longer in each direction
than if you drive up the road to a trailhead parking lot next to several well-organized campground areas.
The disadvantage of driving past the gate is that it is locked at 5 PM. Time your hike accordingly.
From the trailhead allow 3 hours if you are fast and 5 hours if you are slow (about 2,000 feet
of gain and perhaps 6 or 7 miles round trip).
One means of getting around the locked gate problem is to purchase a campground space for the night ($14).
In so doing a Park official provides you the lock combination. I recommend trying the lock BEFORE the gate
is locked for the night: you want to be certain the gate unlocks when you must exit
(unless you want to wait until 8 AM the following morning for the gate to be reopened).
Edward had an early morning flight before 8 AM and so we had to be certain that the gate could indeed
be unlocked upon our departure at 5:15 AM.
The climb itself is all on a broad jeep trail - class 1. Immediately after leaving the trailhead
(a map will be provided to you by a Park official), take the left fork at the unmarked junction.
You will find yourself meandering up the west slope of the range and, after perhaps 900 feet of net gain,
arrive at a saddle with your first views east to the El Paso area.
The jeep road turns right (south) from the saddle, and drops 50-100 feet before resuming its upward course
at a junction with a second trail. This second trail takes one into the drainage on the east side of the range.
Be careful to not take it on the way down!
The route winds around the east and south slopes of North Franklin Mountain, eventually topping out onto a
somewhat flat summit area.
It was raining most of the time when we were there - with threatening clouds
and thunder to the southwest. So I spent no time on top - electing instead to simply step on the summit
benchmark and then take a short break after descending a few hundred feet.
After all, I don't want to be fried alive for the sake of any mountain.
We began the hike just after high noon and returned to my Tacoma truck at about a quarter of four.
This was my final county highpoint of the 2002 season. With this trip I suddenly
had two-thirds of the New Mexico counties (22 of 33).
For the season I had 58 western counties (including this and the Texas state HP from a few days earlier).
I had taken to good advantage of my current jobless situation!