This is a nice varied loop in the east Sandias that gives a sampling of the steep and narrow South Faulty trail, the chunky switchbacks along the horse bypass, and a flowing canyon section.
Hiker traffic can be heavy in this popular area.
Park at the horse trailer area or Sulphur Canyon picnic area if the gate is closed. NOTE: Parking anywhere in this area requires a valid permit. Patrols are frequent and fines approach $100.
Head east down the chunky switchbacks of Horse Bypass
to Cienega Canyon. Turn downhill along an old road, then bear off and to the right onto Armijo Trail
. Follow this uphill through a nice wide canyon with a couple of steep sections. Eventually you'll hit a section of South Faulty Trail
that will take you north until you once again intersect Cienega Canyon.
Here, there are a couple of bedrock steps and a steep descent to the canyon floor. You can bail out here or continue following South Faulty Trail
until it intersects the Horse Bypass
. The Horse Bypass
is a nice downhill ride with a couple of chunky spots.
Once you reach the road, continue on to the parking area and complete the loop.