January 7, 1999
Highlights: An easy loop trail made up of three trails. A pleasant picnic spot either before or after hiking. Location: From Albuquerque, take Interstate 40 east to N.M. 14 until you reach Sandia Crest turnoff. Take N.M. 536 2.1 miles west to Doc Long Picnic Area. Parking fee $3. From the trail head, Bill Spring Trail (196) follows the ravine up to 7,900 feet, turns sharply left and soon intersects with Faulty Trail (195) and heads south along a ridge. Continue approximately 1 1/2 miles to junction with Sulphur Canyon Trail. Turn left and hike past the trail head sign and follow the easy path over a small rise back to Doc Long Picnic Area. Round-trip distance: About 2 1/2 miles Difficulty: Easy Elevation: About 7,360-8,000 feet Cautions: Trail can be snowpacked in patches. Wear sturdy hiking boots, and hike midday when snow is soft. Check conditions first by calling Sandia Ranger District, 281-3304. Printable map
Doc Long Loop
Starting from the Bill Spring trail head, a good loop hike can easily be completed in an afternoon. Going up Bill Spring about one-half mile, the trail veers left and soon joins Faulty Trail, which follows a ridge, and after 1 1/2 miles joins a trail leading back to Sulphur Canyon Picnic Area.
From here, you're just over a short rise from the starting point. Though the trail is snowpacked in shady spots, sturdy hiking boots and careful footing will get you back safely.
William H. Long, a forest pathologist, came to Albuquerque in 1913 and set up his field headquarters in the area now known as the Doc Long Picnic Area, where he worked until the mid-1930s. Along with three other pathologists, he studied diseases afflicting the ponderosa pine and other trees in semiarid areas, namely root rot and dwarf mistletoe.
As the Sandias became more accessible with improved automobiles, the Civilian Conservation Corps, in 1935, built a picnic shed at Doc Long Picnic Area for the public to enjoy. Their camp was located in nearby Sandia Park. Today the well-built shed serves as a common-use area for visitors. Two other shelters, built from the same pattern, now serve as popular picnic gathering places.
Sue B. Mann