Crazy Cat thru hike
Spectacular views of New Mexico, El Paso and Juarez reveal critical historic trade and transportation routes, including the Paso del Norte (Pass of the North) from as early as the 16th century, and the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route from 1858-61.
Directissimo to Thousand Steps
The wreckage you might see from the trail comes from a B36 Bomber left when it crashed into Ranger Peak on its final approach to Biggs Field in 1953. The B-36D Peacemaker (Intercontinental Strategic Bomber) was the biggest warplane ever to wear an American star. The last B-36D in the wing, assigned to the 492nd Bomb Squadron, was transferred to Biggs AFB, Texas, on December 11, 1953. Enroute to Biggs, AFB, the aircraft crashed into the Franklin Mountans while the pilot was attempting an approach in poor visibility, out of GCA radar contact and in a snow storm. The aircraft was completely destroyed and the crew of nine perished.
Old Tin Mine-Polecat Lollipop
The El Paso Tin Mining and Smelting Company operated here during the 1910-1911. It was the only tin mine in production within the continental United States. In the 1890’s, miners found tin on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. However, extraction of the tin was slow and the first shipment of tin didn’t occur until 1910. By 1915, only five years after the first shipment, profits sagged and the operation folded. The mine was briefly reopened in 1942, during World War II. Due to the thinness of the veins, it was once again shut down. The scars from this period of operation are still evident in the Tin Mine Unit.
Palisades Canyon Loop
Allow your imagination to cut through the city views of El Paso and Juarez. Historically important trade routes are below you, including the Paso del Norte (Pass of the North) from as early as the 16th century, and the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach route from 1858-61.
Ron Coleman Trail
At the Transmountain end of the trail at Smugglers Pass trailhead, you’ll look back over Fusselman Canyon where Texas Ranger Charles Fusselman was killed in an ambush by cattle rustlers in 1890. On April 17 that year, a group of Texas Rangers pursued horse thieves into a canyon near North Mount Franklin. Texas Ranger Charles Fusselman, who was leading the posse into the canyon, was slain when the approaching party was ambushed by the horse thieves. The thieves took Fusselman’s body hostage; it was not until the next day that Fusselman’s body was retrieved from the thieves. Fusselman’s slayer, Geronimo Parra, was not punished for the murder until 1900, ten years later. The canyon where Fusselman was killed now bears his name, and also contains a large section of the Ron Coleman Trail.
This walk offers the spectacular views of the urban cities of El Paso and Juarez today, but you’re also looking at what were once historic trade and travel routes. Beginning in the 1580s, less than a century after Columbus, Spanish conquistadors and priests passed through the desert below the Franklin Mountains to colonize Pueblo villages in what is now New Mexico. The Butterfield Overland Mail stage route passed through Franklin (now El Paso) to deliver the U.S. Mail and passengers from Missouri to California from 1858 to 1861.
The trailhead for this hike in the Tom Mays Unit of Franklin Mountains State Park shows Precambrian rocks dating 570 million years ago. They were formed when life on earth consisted of one-celled organisms. The mountains are made mostly of sedimentary rock, with some igneous intrusions.
Read more about Franklin Mountains State Park