Group hike to Wyler Aerial Tramway challenging, but popular on the last Sunday of each month

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A group of 64 people braved steep terrain, dodged cacti and high altitude as they climbed to the Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park to hike the trails leading to the to the top of Ranger peak recently.

The hike is open to everyone but might be challenging for some, said Paul Hanson, a park employee.

“Fit people do great on it but some people come out and taken about two hours to make it to the top, but it’s always a good accomplishment when they make it up there,” Hanson said.

There are other ways to prepare for a hike like this. “It’s one of the steepest trails in town. I would just say just stay active, walk every day, ride your bicycle, just moving around will help prepare for this type of hike,” Hanson said.

The Wyler Aerial Tramway is a state park and home to many hikers who make the trek up the Franklin Mountains. Photo by Salvador Porras, Borderzine.com Photo credit: Salvador Porras

The hike began at the bottom of the Wyler Aerial Tramway using the Directissimo Trail to reach a 770-foot elevation gain and a view of East El Paso. Guides accompany hikers from 8 a.m. during the winter and starting at 7 a.m. during the summer.

The trail then lead into the Ranger Peak Loop Trail a 1.4-mile trip around the viewing center at the peak of the Tramway, which gave a view of East El Paso, West El Paso, and Juarez.

The hike allows its visitors a way introduction to hiking and a way to stay active. “Our trail is nice because in the short distance it’s a good work out, so it’s always good to get moving and active when nowadays it’s so easy to sit behind the television and stay home,” Hanson said.

Diana Moy, another park employee, said: “What we’re trying to do is give people the confidence to go hiking on their own. To maybe people that never hiked or are new to the area, just to get them outdoors, more active and to explore the area. Maybe feel confident enough to do it on their own.”

Although these hikes are held every last Sunday with a guide the public is open to hike the trails on their own.

Mario Pando has done the hike twice and said the little bit of hard work it takes to get up is well worth the view. He enjoys the physical challenge and having something to do from the hiking.

Carlos Gonzalez also enjoys the physical experience given from the hike. “It was a good challenge for myself. Now I need to be more active and this is an activity I would see myself doing more and more.”

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Hiker Gary Maceoin and his dog take a break after hiking up the Franklin Mountains at the state park. Photo by Salvador Porras, Borderzine.com Photo credit: Salvador Porras

Gary Maceoin has hiked the trail four times and enjoys it for a number of reasons. “The scenery number one and definitely in the bigger groups you get a lot of interesting people. You learn about a lot of different things about El Paso out here.”

Maceoin also said “It’s a little bit of a challenge, but if we’re not challenging ourselves what are we doing.”

The park recommends bringing water, sturdy shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and a sense of adventure. “Know the weather, wear weather appropriate clothing. Wear tennis shoes or hiking boots preferably. Know your limits, know how far you can go. Have water especially if you have kids or pets with you,” Moy said.

The tramway was built in 1959 when KTSM Radio used it to help with the construction for a transmitter antenna and service platform.

Originally named El Paso Aerial Tramway was privately owned and operated but allowed public access from 1960 to 1986.

In 1997, the Tramway was donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the estate of Karl O. Wyler. It reopened to the public in 2001 with the name Wyler Aerial Tramway, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife.

The tramway is one of three in the city and the only one open to the public in the entire state.

For more information about the hike, or other events taking place at the park you can visit, https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/wyler-aerial-tramway/park_events or view there Facebook Wyler Aerial Tramway – Texas Parks & Wildlife.

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