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9 Stunning Hiking Trails in El Paso, Texas

best hiking trails in el paso, texas

While El Paso might not be a tourist hub like much larger cities in Texas, it doesn’t mean that it has nothing unique to offer. In fact, there are numerous excellent hiking trails and parks in the city of El Paso that offer stunning views, fun activities to do, and picturesque locations for you to visit.

Unlike hiking in Houston or Dallas, which are compromised by large metropolitan areas, El Paso is a smaller city that offers a more intimate experience. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, then El Paso is the perfect place for you.

If you’re new to El Paso, TX, or are looking for a new hiking destination, you’ll be in luck. Here are the best places to hike and walk trails in El Paso!

The 9 Best Hiking Trails Near El Paso

El Paso Tin Miles Trail

best hiking trails in el paso - el paso tin miles trail
Image Credit: Scott Kimmle (Alltrails)

The El Paso TIn Miles Trail is a 6.6-mile out and back trail that is located in the Franklin Mountains State Park. This trail is moderate in difficulty and one of the most popular trails around El Paso.

The El Paso Tin Mines Trail features beautiful views of the city and the surrounding mountains. There are also a few small caves located along the trail and an abandoned mine near the end, making for fun exploration. Keep in mind that the path gets a bit rocky, so bring sturdy shoes and some solid trekking poles.

The Franklin Mountains State Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country, with 24,000 acres of land shared by both Texas and New Mexico. Situated at 5,000 feet above sea level and stretching from the edge of El Paso to the heart of Las Cruces, it is home to a wide variety of wildlife and plant life, including peregrine falcon, black bear, and desert tortoise.

Franklin Mountains State Park is one of the best state parks to visit in Texas. It’s a hiker’s paradise with over 80 miles of trails, some suitable for beginners while others cater to seasoned hikers. The entire park is also open to mountain bikers and rock climbers.

  • Length in Miles: 6.6
  • Elevation Gain: 1023 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Lazy Cow Trail

best hiking trails in el paso - lazy cow trail
Image Credit: Sean McCombs (Alltrails)

Another trail in Franklin Mountains State Park – this beautiful trail covers 6.8 miles and is considered a much easier hike. The Lazy Cow Trail is one of the most popular trails in El Paso, as it offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

The trail itself is pretty flat and great for mountain bikers s well. You’ll also find a few benches along the way to take in the views or just rest for a bit.

If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing in Franklin Mountains State Park, this trail is for you. It provides an easy to moderate workout and some great photo opportunities. You’ll likely see plenty of other hikers and bikers on this trail, so be sure to say hello!

  • Length in Miles: 6.8
  • Elevation Gain: 406 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

Ascarate Lake Loop

best hiking trails in el paso - ascarate lake
Image Credit: Shutterstock

This 1.5-mile loop trail is relatively easy and is located at Ascarate Park. The views of the lake are absolutely stunning, especially during sunset.

The Ascarate Lake Loop is an excellent trail for beginners or those looking for a leisurely walk. You’ll find plenty of other hikers, bikers, and runners on this trail as well.

If you want to add a bit of fun to your hike, consider bringing some fishing poles and trying to catch dinner! Ascarate Park is also home to a golf course, so you could always combine your hike with a round of golf.

As far as the park itself, it’s a bird lover’s paradise, with over 200 species of birds, including hummingbirds, hawks, and owls. The park opened in 1940 and is one of the largest and most well-known parks in El Paso. Overall, the trails here are easy to moderate, and the park is open year-round. It’s a great place to take a picnic and enjoy the scenery with your family.

  • Length in Miles: 1.5
  • Elevation Gain: 9 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

Palisades Canyon Loop

best hiking trails in el paso - palisades canyon loop
Image Credit: Alex Morales (Alltrails)

This 5.0-mile loop trail in Arroyo Park offers stunning rocky scenery but can become quite tricky due to its uneven and rough terrain. In addition, there aren’t many markers along the route, so it’s easy to go off-trail.

That being said, the views from the top of the canyon are definitely worth it. You’ll see the entire city of El Paso stretched out before you.

Palisades Canyon Loop is best for experienced hikers who are comfortable with a bit of scrambling. Be sure to wear proper shoes and bring plenty of water, as there is no shade along the way.

As far as the park, Arroyo Park is one of the most popular parks in El Paso, and for a good reason. In addition to the Palisades Canyon Loop, you’ll find plenty of other trails to explore, a disc golf course, and a playground.

The park is open year-round and is also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your four-legged friend along for the hike!

  • Length in Miles: 5.0
  • Elevation Gain: 1,079 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Trans-Mountain Trail

best hiking trails in el paso - trans-mountain trail
Image Credit: David Baake (Alltrails)

The Trans-Mountain Highway is the major road connecting the west and east El Paso. It crosses through the Franklin Mountains, home to many great hikes. This section of the trail is a family-friendly hike with sweeping views of El Paso, Texas. There are multiple lookout points along the way to stop and take in the scenery as well as a few picnic tables for those that want to make a day out of it.

A complete loop of this hike is slightly more than 10 miles and will take you approximately 4 to 5 hours to complete. However, there are plenty of places you can cut short or extend your trip if you’d like to do less or more.

This is a great hike for all levels, as there are plenty of places to rest along the way.

  • Length in Miles: 10.6
  • Elevation Gain: 1,715 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

McKelligon Canyon Road

best hiking trails in el paso - mckelligon canyon trail
Image Credit: jaybock (Flickr CC)

McKelligon Canyon lies on the eastern side of the Franklin Mountains and offers some of the best views in all of El Paso. This 4.5-mile out-and-back hike is relatively easy and is great for all levels.

The trailhead starts at the Scenic Drive Parking Lot and takes you all the way up to McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre. Along the way, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the cityscape as well as the surrounding desert landscape.

There are also a few benches along the way if you need to take a break. If you want to extend your hike, there are plenty of other trails in McKelligon Canyon that you can explore.

All in all, the trails here are well-maintained and easy to follow, while the views of the city are spectacular. There are dozens of miles of trails spanning throughout McKelligon Canyon, but some of the best views can be found along the ridgelines near the upper portion.

The trails at McKelligon Canyon can get busy on nice weekends, so if you’re looking for more solitude in nature, try heading out to these hiking spots during weekdays or early mornings on weekends.

  • Length in Miles: 4.5
  • Elevation Gain: 669 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hueco Tanks Nature Trail

best hiking trails in el paso - hueco tanks nature trail
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Hueco Tanks Historical Park is home to some of the best rock climbing and hiking experiences in all of Texas. But even if you don’t plan on doing any climbing, the area is still worth exploring. The Nature Trail is an easy 1.5-mile loop that takes you past some of the most popular rock formations in Hueco Tanks.

Along the way, you’ll see petroglyphs (ancient rock art) and panoramic views of the Chihuahuan Desert. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, making it great for all levels.

Hueco Tanks State Park is a unique place with a rich history. The area was once home to the Jornada Mogollon people and was a vital stopover on the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road to the Interior).

However, there are a few things to know first. To hike in Hueco Tanks, you’ll need a guide. The park has limited access due to the fragility of the natural and archeological resources, so they require that all hikers have a park-certified guide.

You can make arrangements for a tour by contacting the park in advance of your visit. Each tour lasts for two hours and costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. For groups larger than 10 people, there is an additional $2 charge per person.

The second thing to know is that you may not be able to go on the trails you want. There are eight trails at Hueco Tanks, but only four are open to visitors on any given day. Which trails are open rotates periodically, so you’ll want to check with the park before you go to make sure that your desired trail will be open when you get there.

Thirdly, pets are not allowed on these trails so you’ll have to leave your furry friend at home.

  • Length in Miles: 1.9
  • Elevation Gain: 59 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Rio Bosque Loop

best hiking trails in el paso - rio bosque loop
Image Credit: Shutterstock

This short 2-mile loop goes by some of the most beautiful wetlands in El Paso. The trailhead starts at the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park Visitor Center and takes you through a dense riparian forest.

You’ll see a variety of plant and animal life as you make your way through the woods. The trail is flat and easy to follow, making it great for all levels.

The Rio Bosque Wetlands Park is a wildlife refuge located in the Upper Valley of El Paso, Texas. The park comprises about 400 acres of land that has been restored to its natural riparian ecosystem. The park is less than 30 minutes from the city center and offers hiking, jogging, canoeing, and fishing opportunities for tourists and locals. Besides hiking trails, visitors can visit the park for free and enjoy the many interpretive exhibits throughout the park.

  • Length in Miles: 2.1
  • Elevation Gain: 6 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

Rio Grande Riverpark and Trail System

best hiking trails in el paso - rio grande riverpark
Image Credit: Shutterstock

This trail system follows the Rio Grande through El Paso. The park is huge and has a ton of different trails to explore, so you could easily spend a whole day here.

The Rio Grande Riverpark is a linear park stretching over 20 miles along the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. The park has over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, making it a great place to get some exercise.

As far as views go, you can see the Rio Grande, the Franklin Mountains, and Mexico from various points along the trail. There are also a few ruins of old buildings and bridges that you can explore.

  • Length in Miles: 21
  • Elevation Gain: Varies
  • Difficulty: Varies

Conclusion

El Paso is known for being a desert oasis among the surrounding mountains and canyons, making it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts to explore. The city’s natural offerings include arches, mesas, various volcanic rock formations, and much more — all of which offer gorgeous views from the top of their peaks. It’s no wonder that hiking is a popular pastime among residents of El Paso, and with our list of the 9 best hiking trails In El Paso, you can make the most out of your time spent outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking in El Paso

Does El Paso have canyons?

Yes, El Paso has several canyons within its city limits. The most popular canyon for hiking is the Franklin Mountains State Park, with over 30 miles of trails.

What is El Paso known for?

El Paso is known for its desert landscape, Hispanic culture, and proximity to Mexico.

How high are the Franklin Mountains?

The highest peak in the Franklin Mountains is North Peak, which has an elevation of 7,192 feet.

Does El Paso have any forests?

Yes, El Paso has several forests, including the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, which is a 400-acre refuge. Although El Paso may be known as a desert oasis, there is more to the city than just sand and cacti. With its mountains, canyons, rivers, forests, and wetlands, El Paso is a nature lover’s paradise.

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