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Top 10 Running Trails in El Paso

Map of top 10 trails in El Paso to run.

El Paso sits right alongside the Rio Grande River on the border of Mexico. It’s surrounded by desert and mountain landscapes, offering plenty of scenic and fun trails to explore. If you’re looking for some of the best places to run in El Paso, here’s our list of the top 10 places to check out.

1. Pat O’Rourke Memorial Trail

O'Rourke Trail in El Paso.

The Pat O’Rourke Memorial Trail in west El Paso is a 4.4-mile trail that runs adjacent to N. Resler Drive, from Helen of Troy Drive to Transmountain (SR375). Although it’s not the most scenic run you’ll find in the city, it offers a gradual incline along a decently long route that’s completely separate from traffic. The trail is divided into two lanes, and there are benches along the way if you need to stop and rest.

Tips: There are no restrooms or water stations on the Pat O’Rourke Memorial Trail, so you’ll need to bring some water with you and plan for bathroom breaks.

2. Scenic Drive

View of El Paso from Scenic Drive.

Scenic Drive is a popular running route in El Paso that has also been featured in movies. Aptly named, this route provides stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. The hilly, 2-mile road winds around a mountain and offers several overlooks where you can stop and soak up the sights. This running route is easily accessible from downtown El Paso, making it convenient if you’re staying in the city. For additional mileage, you can extend your run through Manhattan Heights, the city’s most lavish residential neighborhood. It’s at the northeastern end of Scenic Drive at Newman Park.

Tips: Scenic Drive does not have any sidewalks or a shoulder, so run at your own risk. We highly recommend avoiding this route during peak times. Sunday mornings are the best times to run here because the road is closed to all vehicles.

3. Rio Grande Trail

View of river from Rio Grande Trail.

The Rio Grande Trail is your best bet if you’re looking for a longer running route in El Paso. This dirt and gravel trail offers up to 10.5 miles one-way and follows the Rio Grande river from the New Mexico state line to Country Club Road in El Paso. A part of the Rio Grande Riverpark Trail System, it’s an ideal backdrop for birdwatching and is a quiet and serene route. While you run, you’ll see the Franklin Mountains in the east and the massive mesas of New Mexico in the west.

Tips: Even though this trail runs along the river, you won’t always get scenic water views. The riverbed is often dry, especially in the extreme heat of Texas summers.

4. McKelligon Canyon

Jogger on Mckelligon Cayon.

For a rocky and hilly run, head to McKelligon Canyon, just a few miles north of the city and nestled in the Franklin Mountains. This area’s most popular running spot is along McKelligon Canyon Road, a 2.5-mile route. It leads to a trailhead, which you can follow further into the canyon, where you’ll encounter more challenging and rugged trails surrounded by steep canyon walls. The canyon road also has a shoulder, so you can safely run alongside any vehicle traffic, although there is very little.

Tips: Unfortunately, when it comes to shade, McKelligon Canyon offers very little. Choose a cooler day to run here unless you’re prepared to be exposed to the sun or run in the heat.

5. Madeline Park

Madeline Park pavilion.

Madeline Park is a fantastic green area in Kern Place, a historic neighborhood on the west side of El Paso, north of downtown and east of the University of Texas at El Paso. It’s a popular location for running groups and features a path that encircles the park. It’s also an excellent starting point for a large loop around the neighborhood if you want a longer run. Populated with large, mature trees and wide open green spaces, Madeline Park is a pretty place to cool down, stretch, and enjoy a post-run snack once you’re done making your way around the neighborhood.

Tips: If you’re unfamiliar with the area, consider joining a local group run for a better experience.

6. Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park

Pink sunset at Memorial Park.

Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park is located in Franklin Mountains State Park and is an attractive destination for hikers and off-road runners. You won’t find any paved trails here, but the rocky and rugged terrain is a fun challenge that will undoubtedly boost your heart rate and get your blood pumping. Popular route options for running, hiking, and biking include the Lazy Cow and Mad Cow trails. Signage is scarce at this park, so bring a map or your phone to find your way around. Access to the trails is $4 per person.

Tips: Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park is also a popular mountain biking destination, so be prepared to share the trails with plenty of cyclists.

7. Edgemere Linear Park

Two runners at Linear Park.

Edgemere Linear Park is east of downtown and features about 3 miles of paved running and walking trails (round trip). It’s a flat and easy run for anyone who wants to get a decent workout and the occasional shade provides some relief from the Texas heat in the summer. The trail and neighborhood are well-maintained, and the lack of hills provides a nice, straight route ideal for sprints. It’s also a kid-friendly and dog-friendly running route, so you can easily run with a stroller or alongside your dog or kiddo while they ride their bike.

Tips: This is a popular trail for walking and running, especially during peak times like the morning, but if you don’t mind a crowd, it’s perfect.

8. Ascarate Park

Lake at Ascarate park.

Ascarate Park is the largest park in El Paso, making it a prime running location. Home to 448 acres, including the 18-acre Ascarate Lake, this park is a fantastic place to get some miles in while you enjoy the water. Many avid runners in the area come to this park for the lakeside views and the refreshing change of scenery from the surrounding El Paso. After a solid run here, you can also take advantage of the many additional recreational activities, including fishing, boating, golf, picnic facilities, and a playground area for kids. Make sure to include the lakeside boardwalk in your running route to enjoy the cool breeze off the water and the views!

Tips: If you’re into golfing, Ascarate Park features an 18-hole, 72-par golf course and a 9-hole executive golf course called the Delta 9.

9. Chamizal National Memorial

Entrance of Chamizal National Memorial Park.

Chamizal National Memorial is a small urban park on the border of Mexico and the United States. The red gravel trails here were designed for running, and cross-country teams often make their way around them for a hard workout in preparation for races. The park’s grassy hills and shaded walkways offer gorgeous views of the Franklin Mountains and a serene place to jog or run. Chamizal National Memorial is also home to many hummingbirds, squirrels, and other wildlife due to the local landscape filled with native plants.

Tips: Bicycles are allowed at the Chamizal National Memorial, so watch for traffic on two wheels. 

10. Westside Open Reserve

Sunrise at Westside Open Reserve.

The Westside Open Reserve is tucked away in northwest El Paso but is one of the best places to hike, run, and walk in the area. The community park is home to a few miles of easy trails that runners of all experience levels can enjoy. You can combine trails to create your own route or complete the full 3.5-mile run around the reserve’s perimeter. The park features nice, gently rolling hills and desert scenery and is a popular place to run or walk with your dog, although they must always remain on a leash.

Tips: The reserve also has a recreation center with bathrooms, water, and other facilities open to the public.

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Sources:

  1. https://www.traillink.com/trail/pat-o-rourke-memorial-hike–bike-trail-/ 
  2. https://gov.texas.gov/film/trail/el-paso-scenic-overlook 
  3. https://visitelpaso.com/places/river-park-trail
  4. https://greatruns.com/el-paso-mckelligon-canyon-run/
  5. https://www.yelp.com/biz/madeline-park-el-paso
  6. https://visitelpaso.com/places/chuck-heinrich-memorial-park
  7. http://www.elpasosouthwest.com/chuck-heinrich-park/info/qxy170
  8. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/texas/edgemere-walk-and-jog-trail 
  9. https://www.epcountyparks.com/parks 
  10. https://www.nps.gov/cham/learn/nature/index.htm
  11. https://greatruns.com/el-paso-westside-community-park/ 
  12. https://topdogparks.com/places/westside-open-reserve/ 

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