FATMAP difficulty grade
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](https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/park-information/passes).
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.