The park conducts tours open to the general public. These ranger-led tours are conducted on the first and third weekends of the month. Reservations are preferred, with tours limited to ten persons. If attendance allows, others will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For reservations, call the park office. Tours depart from the park's front entrance at 8 a.m. during the summer months and 9 a.m. during the winter months. Special arrangements for clubs, scout groups, school groups, or any group of more than 8 persons is available, depending upon staffing. Please call the park office for more information. The park reserves the right to limit the number of hikers in a tour group or to cancel trips due to weather conditions. For all tours/general hiking in the Franklin Mountains, wear good shoes, preferably hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, and travel in pairs. Always bring plenty of water and snacks. Cell phones are advised if available.
A very quick trail, about an hour in total. (6000 steps up to the top, 30 minutes.) Steep but the kids age 5-14 managed fine. Going down was scary though as the stones would shift. Surprised no one twisted an ankle! Lovely scenic views :) 6 who joined us were hiking for the first time and managed it fine. It takes your breath away-good little workout!
This trail is located inside the Tom Mays unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park. It is an out-and-back moderated trail alternative to the original Mundy's Gap trail that branches to the spring. It is part of the Franklin Mountains Loop, but instead of going by Mundy's Gap, you return by the same hillside trail, many people use this trail to visit the Cottonwood Spring area. The trail is not shown on the maps because is a relatively new trail. It starts at the same place of the Mundy's Gap, there is also a trailhead named West Cottonwood Trail at this point. You go to your right and in about 0.2 miles you will find the new trail to your left. At about 0.7 of a mile there is an intersection of two trails, take the trail to your right. You will be climbing up by the hillside of the mountain most of the time until you reach the canyon where you will see the Cottonwood Spring. There, you have to go down a little bit and then climb up to the spring. You will find the small spring with a few beautiful cottonwood trees that provide a very nice shadow. This is an ideal place to spend some time with the family because the elevation gain is less than 800 feet and the round trip is about 3 miles. The peak season for this place is in Summer.
Very nice trail, I visited with my granddaughter and was not difficult to hike. The loop trail starts to the right just passing the entrance of the West Cottonwood Trail. You continue on the trail climbing the hill. At about 0.7 of a mile there is an intersection with a trail that connects to the West Cottonwood Trail, we took the trail to our right climbing the hill. We continued on this trail around the hillside until we reached the West Cottonwood Spring at about the mile 1.6. The trail on the hillside, with some rocky sections, is well marked, and with care, easy to walk. Although is not shown on the map, the trail on the hillside is there and is frequently used. We stopped for a while at the nice Cottonwood Spring area, with trees, plants and a small arroyo. We climbed the rock hill and at the top we enjoyed the beautiful views. Then we continued on the trail to our left climbing the mountain until we reached the ridge, then we turned to our left to reach the Mundy's Gap at about the mile 2. After contemplating the east side of El Paso, sitting on the bench, we returned on the Mundy's Gap Trail to the West Cottonwood Trail entrance were we started.