Sulphur Canyon, Faulty Trail, and Bill Spring loop

Two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudatus) on a Cirsium flower
This easy hike near Albuquerque is a good one for seeing wildflowers, as well as the occasional squirrel or other wildlife.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: Cibola National Forest; Sandia Ranger District
Region: Central; Sandia Mountains.
start: 7385ft; 2251m end: 7385ft; 2251m
min: 7385ft; 2251m max: 7847ft; 2392m
elevation gain/loss: 462ft; 141m.
Length: 3.56mi; 5.73km.
surface: mixed
condition: Fine
ease of following: Easy
obstacles: None
Fee: $3.00.
Season: April 01 to November 30. Winter and spring may present problems with icy trails. The picnic area at the trailhead is closed from late fall through sometime in spring, adding distance to your hike.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Bikes: Unknown.
Handicapped accessible: No.
Trailhead facilities: picnic area, trash can(s), vault toilet(s), water.
Hike attractions: wildflowers, wildlife.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2003-05-15
Time it took us: 2:32.
Usage (people/hour): 0.00. People per hour not recorded.
Cleanliness: 9.


Waypoint Type Description
281FAULTYTrail junctionJunction of 281 and Faulty trails
281THTrailheadTrail 281 trailhead at Sulphur Canyon picnic area
BSPRFAULTYTrail junctionJunction of the Faulty and Bill Spring trails
BST DLONGTrailheadBill Spring trailhead at Doc Long Picnic area
DLNG WOLFTrailheadTrailhead for Wolf Spring trail in Doc Long picnic area
OSOFAULTYTrail junctionJunction of the Faulty and Oso Corridor trails


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Albuquerque New Mexico USGS 1983 1:100000 Y from (free)
Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District US Forest Service 2006 1:63360 N from Amazon (purchase) Sandia Ranger District portion
Cibola National Forest, Sandia Ranger District US Forest Service 2006 1:24000 Y from Amazon (purchase) Doc Long-Cienega enlargement area
Guide to Indian Country of Arizona Colorado New Mexico Utah Automobile Club of Southern California 1998 1:0 N from Amazon (purchase) Good overview road map for northwest NM. No scale is given on the map. The corner coordinates are approximate.
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

Support this site:

By purchasing your hiking gear through these links, you will support this web site and it won't cost you anything more.

Camping gear at Amazon

Save 40% on Patagonia, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot & More + Free Shipping over $75! Click to Save.

25% off $150 or 30% off $200 at Sierra Trading Post. Use code: ALMAY2. Valid to 6.6.2012

Getting to the trailhead:

From Interstate 40, take the exit for North 14. Go north about 5.9 miles to the triangle of asphalt, where you go left, heading toward Sandia Crest. After about 1.7 miles, turn left at the sign for the Sulphur Canyon picnic area. At the stop sign, go right for about 0.2 miles to the picnic area. The trailhead is at the far end of the picnic area (GPS: 281TH).

As you can see, the trailhead does not really look like one. In fact, you pass picnic tables for the first part of the hike, which is on asphalt.

No short text

About the hike:

Clematis and the asphalt trail, with a picnic table visible amongst the trees.

As mentioned above, the first part of the trail is asphalt, and you go past picnic tables nestled amongst the trees, as you can see here if you look closely.

You can see some clematis in the foreground (purple flowers).

The asphalt lasts for about 0.3 miles. Here you can see Diana walking down the trail, near where the asphalt ends.
No short text
No short text
Beware, as poison ivy grows along this trail---Note the white berries which are its fruit. The poison ivy is easy to avoid, but we do recommend caution if you bring a dog or child.

After about 0.7 miles, you come to the junction of 281 (which you have been hiking on) and the Faulty trail. You will want to make almost a 180° turn to the right. In the GPS waypoints, this is 281FAULTY.

About 30 feet after you make this turn, you come to another, unlabeled junction. Go left, which keeps you on the more heavily-traveled trail.

No short text
No short text
This part of the trail is drier, and you can see the effect in the type of plants that grow here. Most of the wildflowers have disappeared. One example which is still here is the Cliff Fendlerbush. Another example is the thistle with the butterfly at the top of the page.
After about 2 miles of hiking, you come to the junction with the Oso Corridor trail (GPS: OSOFAULTY). This is the highest point on your hike, at 7847 ft (2392 m). Go right, which keeps you on the Faulty trail. The trail now heads down.
No short text
No short text
After a short distance more hiking, you meet the Bill Spring Trail (GPS: BSPRFAULTY), where you make a right. The trail is wide, and you will see many small trails appearing.
When you have hiked a little more than 3 miles, you arrive at the Doc Long picnic area. The photo here is of the Bill Spring trailhead at the Doc Long picnic area (GPS: BST DLONG). Walk through the picnic area on the road, staying straight when there is a junction.
No short text
No short text
After the junction, you will see the trail (Wolf Spring Trail) that connects the Doc Long and Sulphur Canyon picnic areas going up on your right (GPS: DLNG WOLF). Take it. From here, it is a short walk back to the parking area where you started.

Plants we saw along the trail:

Reader comments about this hike:

None yet.

Add your comments about the Sulphur Canyon, Faulty Trail, and Bill Spring loop hike.

Copyright © 1997-2018 Kenneth Ingham Consulting, LLC.

For details about the copyright, see the full Copyright statement.

Unhappy? Thinking of suing us? Read this disclaimer.

You can read our privacy statement.

Comments? Send them via the suggestion form.