A difficult and challenging ride that can be ridden in either direction, though probably a little easier going clockwise.
As with most trails on the back side of the Sandias, you're in the trees most of the time and faced with a lot of rock gardens and occasional ledges. The Bill Spring Trail
is relatively easy, while the section of the Faulty Trail and much of the Oso Corredor Trail are rocky and narrow in spots. The Tree Spring trail sees a lot of foot traffic so be courteous.
The North Faulty Trail
is difficult, narrow, rocky and steep. There is a fair bit of foot traffic on the lower end of the trail.
You could shuttle either side of this ride but that is better reserved for shuttling one half of the Full Melon.
Start by pedaling up the Bill Spring Trail
from the upper left end of the Doc Long parking area. Nothing too steep or rocky but it's consistently bumpy. At the end of the trail, switchback up and left onto the Faulty Trail and start to climb steep terrain with ledges and rock gardens. At the junction, fork to the right onto the Oso Corredor Trail. The Oso Trail switches back and forth between technical and rock and areas where you can just grind out the climb. Make a right at the junction with the Tree Spring Trail and descend to the trailhead parking.
Make a left on the road and climb for a mile or so, then descend past the ski area followed by a short climb to the junction with 165 at the Balsam Glade picnic area. Descend 165, a dirt road for a couple of miles until you come to a left bend with concrete barriers on the outside. Pick up the North Faulty Trail
just uphill from the highest barrier, starting near a large tree.
North Faulty starts out very narrow through scrub oak though it is relatively smooth. Once things open up, you'll be faced with the occasional rocky section and you'll head back into the big trees. Make a quick descent through a ravine and climb out the other side on rocky, loose trail. At the top of the hill there is a sort of clearing and the trail surface is orange crushed rock. Head straight even though there are rocks indicating that the trail turns to the left (this is for the approach to a rock climbing area). Shortly, you'll be peddling through a meadow and need to make a right U-turn to stay on North Faulty (no sign).
From here you'll make your way out of the meadow and start descending. In places the trail is extremely rocky and narrow, cutting across the hillside - beware. There will be flatter and smoother sections but it's mostly a rocky edge of your seat experience. There is another trail junction where you need to stay left (right is an old unmaintained trail with lots of deadfall, though beautiful in places) and it does have a sign if you're headed downhill. Beware of the hikers and their dogs when you get into the lower portion of this trail. You'll be eventually deposited back out on the crest road and need to descend about a half mile back to the Doc Long picnic area and your car.