***I actually did this hike about a week before my National Parks vacation, but I’ve just now gotten around to writing about it***
Despite my miserable time last trip, I headed back to Franklin Mountains State Park to try my hand at a different trail – the Aztec Caves.
The trail itself is not very long, only 1.3 miles round trip, but it goes from relatively flat to quite steep, especially in the last several yards to the caves. Unlike some of the other trails in the park, there a few benches along the way if you need to stop to get your breath. The only downside is, just like Upper Sunset Trail, the trail consists mostly of gravel and loose rocks, making it hard to go back down. I slipped and skidded several times but only fell once; thankfully I just scraped my hands up a bit, which is not a big deal for a klutz like me.
The caves aren’t very big, certainly not in comparison to Carlsbad Caverns located a few hours away, but they’re still very cool to see and explore. The cave mouth gives a gorgeous view of the western part of the park as well as El Paso in the distance. Inside the caves, the are few reddish markings that have sort of faded away and some black drawings which are still quite clear.
The funniest thing in my opinion is the name “Aztec Caves”. Apparently the Aztecs never lived in these parts; the drawings and markings are from different tribes of Native Americans. The early settlers were mistaken but the name stuck!
P.S. Anyone whose read my blog before will be happy to know I did not in fact get heat stroke this time! To avoid a repeat of last time I bought a 2-liter hydration pack which gave me more than enough water for the hike but also kept it cool the whole time. Loving it so far!