Friday, May 31, 2013

McKelligon Canyon Run

It's no secret, I love El Paso.  The funny thing is, I didn't set out to, a year ago it was actually the only place my husband and I could both be stationed, and it started out as a well at least we will be in the same place for once and now it's home and a place I hope to stay for a while.

Not least of my favorite El Paso features is McKelligon Canyon.  
Every time I run this 5-mile out-and-back route, it's a completely different vibe.

Let me tell you a little about this beloved route!  I ran it this morning just to show it off!
Roadside flora

The entrance to McKelligon Canyon is on McKelligon Canyon Drive, just off of Alabama Street and across from William Beaumont Army Medical Center.  There are plenty of well-marked signs leading you to the Canyon and ample parking is available on the side streets. 
From my parking spot...McKelligon Canyon Drive ahead!
The road itself (McKelligon Canyon Drive) is well-maintained and has clearly marked bike lanes on both sides which are great walking/running paths.
 
Rounding a corner

It's a twisting, rolling run that transports you immediately out of the city bustle and into the open wilderness of Franklin Mountain State Park.  Don't let the very first hill scare you- that's the steepest climb.  Midway you will pass the 1500-seat McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater entrance on the left, where concerts, movies and other events are held.  Follow the road as it becomes a one-way turnaround lane.  The picnic shelters and trailheads that line the road and are good places to stop and stretch before the return trip. 
Initial steep climb - I took this pic on the way back so as not to lose momentum :)
Today, along the way, I explored the amphitheater a bit:

View from the entryway

Guess I'm a little early for the show
The road can be crowded (with runners!) between 0600-0800 as soldiers sometimes do PT in the Canyon.  Parking is a little more challenging on Friday mornings (today) which seems the busiest runner day in the Canyon, but I've always found a spot.  Also, be careful during evening hours as the street is not lit at night and during the summer on Thursday evenings I would advise reflective clothing and headlamp/flashlight: Cool Canyon Nights means more traffic on the road.

I have not yet come across the McKelligon Canyon Caveman, recently in the news.  He hasn't bothered me or anyone I know but as always and everywhere, be safe and smart when running, especially if you go solo.

If I visit your hometown, what running route do you recommend?