“A loop around the Cienega Canyon picnic area that includes part of South Faulty Trail.
— John Geronimo
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.
This route is typically snowy from November through February. May be closed during the summer months due to fire danger - check with the ranger station for details.
Need to Know
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.