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This short hike in Franklin Mountains State Park leads to a natural cave carved into the side of the mountain.
It's easily one of the best hikes in the park, and an excellent option for everyone in the family - though it is still quite a workout! Leashed pets are welcome to join, and the hike is a popular option for those camping in the park, with more information on that below.
The view from the cave is even so stunning that it was chosen as the cover photo to the [*Official Guide to Texas State Parks and Historic Sites*](https://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-Texas-State-Historic/dp/1477315403). From the trailhead, the entire hike is just over one mile long, but loaded with beautiful Chihuahuan desert plant life, including yuccas, ocotillo, and the unique sotol cactus, also known as the "desert spoon." The lower portion of the trail begins along an old mining road but transitions to narrow and steep singletrack as you approach the cave.
And once you get there, don't forget to turn around and soak in the views - which are especially beautiful around dusk and dawn. The cave, which is not as deep into the mountain as one may expect, is "thought to have formed as gigantic air pockets in ancient lava," according to [this source](https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2020/nov/scout4_takeahike/index.phtml).
The theory also holds true given other nearby landmarks such as the stunning [Valley of Fires](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2717391/malpais-nature-trail) a few hours north. The trailhead is on the west side of the mountain range in the Tom Mays Unit.
A large visitor center is located just moments from the state road, and restrooms are also located near the trailhead.
The entire drive to the trailhead is paved, and parking for larger vehicles and RV's is available nearby. For those looking to spend the night in the park, there are five primitive drive-up campsites near the start of the trail.
These self-contained pads offer trash cans, a picnic table, and an awning, but nothing more.
More information about camping within the park [can be found here](https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/franklin-mountains/fees-facilities/campsites), and park rangers are always willing to provide advice on which sites would best suit your needs. [Source](https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2020/nov/scout4_takeahike/index.phtml)