Sotol Forest Loop

A stunning all-mountain tour of the eastern side of the Franklins.

Mountain Biking Moderate

18 km
343 m
343 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.5 km
Sotol Forest Loop Map

This loop tours some of the east Franklin's best mountain biking trails, including Scenic Road and the stunning Sotol Forest. Some consider it one of the most spectacular and stunning mountain bike loops in West Texas - if not the entire state - and the sunrise is spectacular along the mountainside if you plan a pre-dawn start to enjoy it.


Begin your ride at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park on the eastern slopes of the Franklins. There is no park entrance station or visitor center, just a small self-pay kiosk asking $5 from those without a Texas State Parks Pass. The parking lot also doubles as parking for a neighborhood park, and there is plenty of space no matter what you drive. Neither water nor restrooms are available.

Ridden clockwise, this loop begins with a mellow yet chunky mining road that will likely have your heart racing just minutes in. That's normal, though, as the initial slopes out of the parking area are deceivingly steep and are demanding even for seasoned locals. If you are traveling cross-country and stop for a ride, you may also feel the effects from higher elevation, since the parking lot sits at nearly 4,100' above sea level. Air pollution from the nearby city can also be a variable.

After passing the Blue Moon trail (an old mining road), you'll approach Scenic Road, the highlight of the ride. Scenic Road also joins seamlessly into Sotol Forest, a trail aptly named for a local cactus that paints the hillsides. The leaves, which form a spoon-like shape when removed, have earned the cactus a nickname as the "desert spoon." Other parts of the cactus can be used to make a form of alcohol similar to Mezcal.



Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Flow
  • Technical
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Wet-weather friendly
  • Rock Gardens

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