The Mountains of West Texas
North Franklin Mountain • Highpoint: Franklin Mountains
• Highpoint: City of El Paso
• Highpoint: El Paso County

Franklin Mountains

Franklin Mountain as seen
from Sierra del Cristo Rey,
December 2023

Date: December 31, 1999 • Elevation: 7,192 feet • Prominence: 2,982 feet • Distance: 8 miles • Time: 4 hours • Gain: 2,490 feet • Conditions: Cloudy at first, then clearing


I was heading to Big Bend National Park, a place I had always wanted to visit. This was also to celebrate the momentous change when 1999 turned into 2000. I did not want to stay home or go to a street party. Instead, I would find somewhere in West Texas to celebrate the rollover, plus hike a couple peaks while at it.

Big Bend is almost 800 miles from Phoenix, so I broke the drive into two segments, staying the night in El Paso, roughly half way. I arrived on the 30th and stayed in the suburb of Anthony, planning to hike North Franklin Mountain the next day. The Franklin Mountains cleave El Paso into two halves, the main city being on the west and south sides, and big Fort Bliss, where I lived as a baby, on the east side.

Today, the last day ever for the one-thousands, started cloudy and cool, but the clouds were thin mid-level clouds, not big stormy clouds. I could see daylight off to the west and hoped the clouds would scoot by as the day progressed. From my hotel, I drove 10 miles to the trailhead of the Franklin Mountains Preserve on the west side of the range, off the Texas Mountains Scenic Road (Loop 375). I paid a small fee, parked, and got myself ready for the hike.

The hike itself follows old roads all the way to the summit. On the west side, the roads cut up across the headwall of a side canyon, switchback a few times, then come to the main range crest, roughly two miles from the trailhead and about halfway up in elevation. As I crested the crest, I heard what sounded like gunshots, but were in fact two bull deer locking antlers and having a tangle. I watched from a respectful distance. This went on for a minute or so and was quite exciting.

I continued my hike, now on the east side of the range where I had views east across the sandy Chihuahuan deserts of the Fort Bliss Reservation and beyond. The route to the top was the road, and there was even smatterings of snow from a storm a few days ago, and evidence of tire tracks, suggesting people drive up here from an entry-point unknown to me. I arrived to the summit after two hours, a flattened mountaintop with small communications boxes on top. The clouds began to clear and I had sunnier conditions.

From the top, I picked out the surrounding ranges, with the Organ Range in New Mexico being the most obvious. I spent about 30 minutes here, enjoying the views and solitude. I was surprised there weren't more people hiking today. My hike down went without any trouble, and I was back to my truck after about four hours on the route.

From El Paso, I continued east through Sierra Blanca into Van Horn, then south through Marfa and into Alpine. There was still the matter of a drinking establishment to decide upon. I found a nice-looking place on the main drag in Alpine, and after checking into a local hotel and cleaning up, went on down to the place (called the Railroad Blues Bar) and had a good time having a few beers, eating good Tex-Mex food and listening to a really good band. Alpine is a college town, but the clientele here was a mix of everyone, young and old alike.

At midnight, 1999 ended and 2000 started. The years starting with "1" had ended. The world did not end, though. Things were generally the same. I went back to my hotel and slept well, then drove down to hike Emory Peak in Big Bend, trying to start the two-thousands off on a good note.

(c) 2005, 2019 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.