Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
One of the most interesting and fun trails in Franklin Mountains State Park, Mule Shoe would be as a popular nature trail if it weren't for its technicality and the challenge in reaching it. As it is, that makes it a hidden gem. A wide variety of desert fauna is packed into its short distance, and the trail passes over a number of Precambrian rock formations, with stripes marking ancient sedimentation layers. Wildlife also frequently congregates in the area.
The loop is best taken clockwise, as it is easier to stay on the trail. Signs mark both ends. The trail winds throughout its length, frequently doubling back on itself. Many sections will cross over flat rock and are less visible. Look for hints left by previous hikers and bikers to mark the path: broken pieces of bark, lines of rocks, and other things that appear out of place are all good indicators.
The twisting, up and down path lasts a little over half a mile before ending a short distance up Blue Moon
from its starting point.
Flora & Fauna
Desert plants tend to bloom in waves in spring and summer after the short periods of rain that El Paso experiences. Ocotillo
tend to turn green and blossom first, followed by barrel and claret cup cacti, and finally flowers and prickly pears. The northeast area of the Franklins features a greater number of lechugilla than other regions.
Animals are mostly limited to jackrabbits, lizards, and small birds. Roadrunners will dart across the trail at times, and hawks circle overhead, looking for prey. Coyotes are hard to spot and tend to only come out after dusk, though they leave visitors alone.
Keep an eye out for snakes. They avoid the hot desert sun and are more common during the winter months. Most are harmless, but rattlers are a part of the local wildlife.
Shared By: Brendan Ross