Franklin Mountains Ridgeline Hike

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Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains Ridgeline Hike is a 10.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near El Paso, Texas that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from September until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.3 miles Elevation Gain: 3,946 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips

bird watching



wild flowers


Advanced day pass reservations required; face coverings recommended; gathering of groups larger than five people are not allowed, except for families or people living in the same household; maintain six-foot social distancing. Visitors should check the Texas State Parks Alert Map regularly for the latest status of parks. Hike from N. Stanton St to Trans-Mountain Rd along the Franklin Mountains ridge. NOTE: This hike begins with the Trans-Franklin Mountains South Trail and ends at the Ron Coleman Trail. Study those hikes for information on that part of the trail. At 2.0 miles on the Trans-Franklin South Trail you reach the ridge. When that trail curves right and down look for a dim trail that goes straight along the bluff. At 2.25 miles turn left and climb the arroyo to the ridge. Then go right and up. Follow the dim trail until you reach the TV towers at 2.7 miles. Go left and follow the fence around. DO NOT TRESSPASS, VIDEO CAMERAS! At 2.9 miles begin bushwhacking north on the ridgeline. You will encounter a knife-edge ridge at about 3.4 miles. Go right and down, then back up and left to bypass it. At 3.8 miles you reach the Govt Radio Site. Don't touch, just hike through. The hike gets easier from this point. At 5.6 miles you reach the junction of the Ron Coleman Trail. Continue North. DANGER - read the disclaimer. THIS HIKE IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS!

5 months ago

As stated this is not for the faint of heart. you will be placed in situations where you will feel like jello before even crossing. the main part I speak of is the ridged line with cliffs on each side. there are two ways to do it. you can kind of crawl atop to the other side. or go to the left and free climb up. each is equally dangerous and one slip could end your life. be smart. if you think you don't have the skill turn around. there is no shame in being safe. however, if you pass this part there are more dangerous parts and more cacti but the rewards and views are worth it. I hiked from Stanton at around 8 am and went all the way to trans mountain road, and approx. six hours. most will want to hike to the canyon road and move down. however, if you want to do the whole thing, bring water and food. watch the time and make sure you are competent in your skills. much love hikers and climbers

Mon Apr 08 2019

This is a great trail; difficult to keep trail, best option is to follow the ridgeline. Beautiful scenery!

Sun Mar 10 2019

This is trail is not for beginners. I repeat not for beginners!! You will be tested physically, mentally, and spiritually. Trail takes about 6-10 hours depending on you and/or the group your with. I recommend taking at least one hour of break time and splitting it into 9 five minute breaks and a 15 minute lunch break. Bring plenty of snacks and fruit as this will take a lot of energy out of you. Pack a lunch as well. I recommend eating healthy (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) the night before and getting a good nights rest. Bring a camel pack to store food and water. I would advise you not to start this trail no later than 8am. Sunset is 6:30pm during winter and you don’t want to be caught up in that mountain in the dark. Do not take any pets. You will run the risk of safety for you and your pet. Their paws can get blisters or cut up because of the jagged ridgeline rocks. Also there is a lot of rock climbing involved. This is about 75% trail and 25% rock climbing. Do not take kids with you. This trail offers a lot of scenic views. You will feel a big sense of accomplishment if you complete it. Be sure to wear hiking shoes! You will need the support and grip for your feet! I started at the thousand steps trail and ended all the way at the end of the Ron Coleman trail where the trans mountain side is. This is where the “elephant” looking rock trail is. Used all trails app and was 9.2 miles. Stay on the ridgeline!! Do not hike down the mountain it will slow you down because of cacti and other fauna. I would recommend you do the thousand steps trail and Ron Coleman before attempting this. My buddy had no hiking experience and isn’t fit and did this hike with me. It was his first hike ever and Although he did complete it he pushed his body to the point of exhaustion and starting throwing up towards the end. Good luck! P.s. take an eternal battery to charge your phone. You will be using a lot of battery if your using the app. I have t mobile and was able to get service up on mountain

rock climbing
Mon Nov 05 2018

Assess your skill level, read the other reviews below too and have a flexible plan because there are lots of ‘dumb ways to die’ on this ‘trail.’ There is no trail for the entire length of the ridgeline above or below the ridge. This is not hiking, it is free-style rock climbing. How you will be humbled: One section of the ridgeline is nothing but a single, jagged, ‘knife-edge’ ridge to traverse. Once you are committed to this section, each foot-hold, each hand placement, each direction means life or death. Expect your muscles to feel like jello even before you begin this section because there are other sections like it, but this one is the worst. Once I hit sections like this I stopped taking pictures because I was in survival mode. Your option for not crossing sections like this or high cliff edges: empaling sword cactus, spiky cactus fit for a crown, cactus with tiny splinter barbs and loose rocks of all sizes and shapes on steep inclines, but mostly, the uncertainty of not knowing if there is a way through at all after all your effort and in the end having to turn back. I had cell service the whole way, but watch your battery life. After learning the ways of the sword cactus while going around the ridge at one point, I read a previous review on here and it gave me the confidence to continue to problem solve the ridge-line. Stay on it. Once you stop having fun and you are ready to get down off the mountain, you will learn to pray out loud. Bring a flashlight because you will grossly underestimate the timing. I did it in nine hours for a total of nine miles. I started out at the McKelligon Canyon parking lot at noon and lost the sun on some treacherous terrain just before reaching the kind ‘Thousand Steps Trail.’ I took the ‘Thousand Steps Trail’ safely to the parking lot. Once the sun went down, I had to use a different set of eyes: the lights of the city, the white reflecting trail, my GPS on ‘All Trails’ and ‘seeing’ through a continual prayer for direction. Bring a sweater in case you are forced to wait for morning light. Rewards: Amazing views on Mount Franklin in all directions, quiet winds at summit and moments of the type of solitary worship that can be had in no other way. The satisfaction of reaching my goal. It’s a rugged, harsh beauty worth seeing! There are delightful swifts that swirl up top, deer and the night sounds of coyotes. Just be smart about it and stay alive! My best advice is to do the trail in two parts on separate days and watch your time. My temps were 72/49. Bring an ultralight, hands free backpack for extra water. Hiking type running shoes are a must. The terrain on the top ridgeline is sturdy and has natural holds in places.

Tue Jun 13 2017

This hike is not for the faint or weak-hearted. If you are an intermediate or advanced hiker and confident in yourself, then this is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this hike from start to finish. It is a long hike that takes anywhere from 5-7 hours depending on how many breaks you take. Took me 5:17min. If you plan to do this hike, DO NOT take your dog and go with a buddy. There is some difficult terrain on the trail (if you can see the trail) that require hardcore negotiating. Started from Transmountain pass and finished at the south end. Best advice I can give anyone, besides bringing plenty of water and starting early in the morning, is make sure you stay on the ridgeline. You will be tempted to take the lower parts but there is not trail there, just a lot of yucca and cacti that don't feel great. The ridge, and in some parts (especially after McKelligon Canyon) knife-ridge, is the trail. If you look ahead there will be a semblance of a trail but it's easy to lose like most trails in the Franklins. This hike was very rewarding, especially if you do the entire thing!

Sat Apr 16 2016

Amazing views!!! Very well marked.

Sun Apr 10 2016

My wife and I took our two dogs to the light on the top of the mountain. Luckily I only had to carry one of them back down.

Fri Jan 11 2013

I was dropped off at Transmountain Rd. trailhead and made it to Kern area ( Robinson and Piedmont) in about 6 hours via the ridgline. I had my dog with me and it made some of the northern sections that require mild climbing a bit difficult. I will not bring a dog if I do this trail again. Also, those hiking this trail should keep in mind that the antenna station on the ridge west-south west ( 3148'53.24"N 10629'21.70"W) of the large Cemex mine is gated and there is no friendly trails that bypass this area (that I am aware of / please post if you are aware of a good solution). Overall the trail is very cool. Ridgelines make for nice routes.

Wed May 25 2011

Can be tough going at times. Nice hike that is close to town. Great views of El Paso and on clear days you can see into Old and New Mexico.

3 months ago

Mon Apr 15 2019