Thursday, May 4, 2000
Highlights: Southern and eastern views, majestic ponderosa pines and mixed juniper vegetation. A great half-day hike on a pleasantly varied and shaded trail. Location: Take the Tijeras exit off I-40, cross under the freeway and turn right into Canyon Estates. The road dead-ends at Canyon Estates Trailhead. Take South Crest Trail (#130) just over one mile, then turn right at the gray marker reading Faulty Trail (#195). Daily parking fee per car is $3. Difficulty: Moderate Round-trip distance: About 6 miles Elevation: 6,600-7,500 feet Best seasons: Year round, weather permitting Maps: Available at the Sandia Ranger Station, 11776 Highway 337, Tijeras, N.M. Call 281-3304. Printable map
If you set off on Faulty Loop Trail in the Sandia Mountains, plan on a pleasant half-day hike with varied vistas. Depending on the trail location, you can see the Forest Service fire station lookout to the south or take in the eastern view of new homes recently built in the East Mountains.
Several stops afford good photographic moments toward South Mountain. Hikers can access Faulty Trail from South Crest Trail about one mile up the trailhead. Look for a gray post with an arrow pointed to the right, and hike accordingly.
After 11/2 miles through tall ponderosa pines and junipers, you will notice another gray post pointing to the left turn for Upper Faulty Trail and the looping hike back. Upper Faulty joins South Crest about one mile above the lower juncture.
Faulty Trail takes its name from the numerous dikes that have been pushed up from buried fault lines. You will notice rock walls that appear to have been set in place by stone masons. These walls are fissures filled with igneous rock that was pushed upward many millenniums ago.
According to retired Forest Ranger John Hayden, the trail was originally named Mystery Trail because no one knew who built it. (It is thought to have first led to mines near Capulin.) Faulty was called Diamond Trail until the name was changed to reflect the nature-made walls.
NOTE: The continuing Faulty Trail traverses Sandia Mountain to the north for 8.6 miles with little elevation change. This internal trail, like a giant artery, connects to Forest Park (#220), Cole Spring picnic area, Bart's Trail (#225), Canoncito (#150), Cienega (#149), Sulphur Canyon (#218), Oso Corredor (#265), and ends at its juncture with Bill Spring Trail (#196).