Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX - Ranger Peak

Our latest adventure has been hiking in the Franklin Mountains State Park.  There are several good places for hikes; we have chosen to climb Ranger Peak, where the Wyler Aerial Tramway is located.  The trail is not an easy one.  We have done this twice as of this writing, and have discovered that what seems like a long hike really doesn’t cover a lot of distance, in miles.  On our second try we managed 1/4 mile!  The park has a supply of walking sticks available for this trail, which we have found very helpful.  Whoever thought of that had a really great idea.  The sticks make the trail a lot safer.

At the starting point for the trail one can find the ticket office for the tramway (hikers must check in here before trying the trail, and again when they return), a restroom, a small botanical garden which showcases some of the significant vegetation you will see on your hike, and a small park with benches where one can enjoy a view of the city, Fort Bliss, and distant mountains.

The scenery here is spectacular.  The base of the trail is already partway up the mountain, so the panoramic view from the parking lot is wonderful.

There is much vegetation of many different varieties along the trail.  In addition to the multitude of yuccas, sotols (they look like agaves but are related to asparagus!), and the ubiquitous prickly pear cacti (which are not your most well-known variety), there are desert ferns, lichens in several colors, fishhook and Texas rainbow cacti, and a myriad of other flowering plants.  By the time you reach the quarter-mile point, there are also ocotillos.  Even the rocks are beautiful.  The one illustrated here shows the beautiful purple color that can be seen on the mountains from the distance.

On our second hike we discovered that there are benches placed at intervals along the trail, where one can enjoy the view while resting and re-hydrating.  One can also see the cable cars as they go up and down the mountain.                                                         

You never know what you will encounter in the way of wildlife.  Actually, apart from butterflies and birds, this lizard is the only other creature we’ve seen, and it was only about four inches long.  There are additional photos in the album.

We will be trying this hike again, as well as trails in other areas.

Original post November 17, 2010

© Susan L. Stone 2015