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Thunderbird

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.0 (2)

Travel along the Franklin's western foothills in the shadow of a Native American legend.


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Map Key

2.5

Miles

4.1

KM

Point to Point

4,877' 1,486 m

High

4,582' 1,397 m

Low

387' 118 m

Up

605' 184 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

27%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Description

Named after El Paso's well-known Thunderbird Formation, a red rhyolite band along the mountains in the shape of a bird, this eponymous route is the main connection from the Lost Dog area to trails along the west central Franklin Mountains. Thunderbird begins where North Clyde's Trail turns underneath a series of three power lines. The path generally follows these lines for its entirety, making them a useful reference point in some of the more difficult to follow areas.

The initial portion of the trail is wide doubletrack, keeping close to the side of the mountains as it passes South Clyde's Trail and Transmountain Summit. Eventually the trail begins to narrow to rocky singletrack, crossing the first of many arroyos. The next mile is a rollercoaster as the path climbs and descends steep hills.

As the trail nears a water tank at the mile and a half point, at an intersection with Down and Out and Sanctum, southbound hikers may want to consider taking Thunderbird Bypass to the right due a steep and slippery descent over loose rock after Thunderbird Summit. In any case, the trail continues southbound, becoming indistinct for several hundred feet as it follows a rocky arroyo (refer to the Hiking Project mobile app for help).

After another arroyo crossing and the aforementioned steep segment, Thunderbird meets back up with the Bypass at a rock cairn. It then climbs to the beginning of McKelligon Saddle, marked by two more cairns. While the trail appears to continue southbound, it quickly ends after a few hundred feet in a field of cacti and lechugillas.

Flora & Fauna

Typical Chihuahua Desert vegetation. Sotols, yuccas, cacti and creosote bushes. Lizards and birds.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brendan Ross with improvements by Jean-Claude Linossi

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 2 votes

#21965

Overall
  3.0 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#577

in Texas

#21,965

Overall
13 Views Last Month
1,027 Since Sep 6, 2015
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Photos

View of the foothills and the Lost Dog area from Thunderbird.
Sep 6, 2015 near El Paso, TX
View of the arroyo and the Franklin Mountains
Mar 29, 2018 near El Paso, TX
View of Mammoth Rock from the trail
Apr 21, 2018 near Canutillo, TX
Looking east into the canyon.
Mar 29, 2018 near Canutillo, TX
Opuntias and view of Mammoth Rock
May 1, 2018 near El Paso, TX
View of the Canyon and  Banana Yucca.
Mar 3, 2020 near El Paso, TX

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Check-Ins

Nov 19, 2018
Lexie Marie
Jan 13, 2017
Jean-Claude Linossi
This trail is very close to where I live and I have been on this trail several times, Very nice views of the Franklin Mountains and some of the canyon 2.5mi — 2h 00m