Tree Spring Loop

A wild iris along the trail
A longer loop in the Sandia Mountains that takes you through several vegetative zones. The variety of vegetation, including wildflowers in the spring, makes this hike worthwhile. Add to it the views from the Crest Trail, and the result is an excellent all-day hike.

Hike data:

Controlling agency: Cibola National Forest; Sandia Ranger District
Region: Central; Sandia Mountains.
start: 8398ft; 2560m end: 8398ft; 2560m
min: 7598ft; 2316m max: 9438ft; 2877m
elevation gain/loss: 1837ft; 560m.
Length: 10.25mi; 16.50km. GPS track distance.
surface: mixed dirt/rock
condition: In general, in good condition. Some areas have minor erosion problems.
ease of following: Easy
obstacles: None
Fee: $3.00.
Season: All year. Winter and early spring may have problems with snow and/or ice on the trail.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Bikes: No. Bikes are not allowed in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.
Handicapped accessible: No.
General notes: Sometimes the trailhead parking is completely full, so arriving early might be a good idea.

We had a couple of minor problems on this hike. As a result, the trail description is not as detailed as we would like. We will re-hike it at some point and update the page with additional information.

Trailhead facilities: vault toilet(s).
Hike attractions: exercise, scenery, wilderness access (Sandia Mountain Wilderness), wildflowers.

When we hiked it:

Date: 2001-06-02
Time it took us: 7:00.
Usage (people/hour): 0.00. People per hour not recorded. Parts of this loop receive heavy usage.
Cleanliness: 9.


Waypoint Type Description
130140Trail junctionJunction of the Pino trail (140) and Crest trail (130)
130148Trail junctionCienega Canyon trail junction with the Crest Trail
148195Trail junctionJunction of trails 148 and 195
CHBFTTrail junctionFaulty trail horse bypass
FTOCTrail junctionFaulty trail junction with Oso Corridor trail
OSOTSTTrail junctionJunction of Tree Spring Trail and Oso Corridor trail
SCTFTTrail junctionSulphur Canyon trail junction with Faulty trail
TSTTHTrailheadTree Spring trailhead
TSTWBTrail junctionTree Spring Trail wilderness boundary and junction with Crest Trail
TSTY1Trail junctionUn-signed junction on Tree Spring Trail


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
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.

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Getting to the trailhead:

Take I-40 to the North 14 exit (exit 175). Go north 5.75 miles from when you pass under I-40 until you get to a triangle of asphalt with a road heading west. There are signs on both sides of the road indicating that this is the road to the crest.

Head up this road for XX miles. A sign indicates the trailhead parking on your left.

No short text

About the hike:

Arkose sandstone

At the trailhead, you are walking over arkose sandstone (such as what is in the picture) in a Fir forest. This sandstone is feldspar-rich, and cemented with calcite.

After a short time, you reach a fork in the trail where the right branch is not heavily used (GPS TSTY1).

The Sandias are a good place to hike if you like wildflowers. Besides the wild iris shown at the top of this page, we also saw lots of these Canadian violets.

After another short distance, you reach the junction with the Oso Corridor trail (GPS OSOTST). Continue on the Tree Spring Trail; you will be returning on the Oso Corridor.

Canadian violet (Viola canadensis)
Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)

The trail begins to climb more now.

Another pretty flower you may find along the trail is the wallflower.

The trail shifts to being on limestone.

You may also see clematis along the trail.

View east from the Tree Spring Trail
After more hiking, you begin to get nice views to the east. This is an indication that you are reaching the Crest Trail and the wilderness boundary. Upon reaching the Crest Trail, (GPS TSTWB), go left.
Continue on the Crest Trail. You reach the Pino Trail (GPS: 130140), followed shortly by the Cienega Trail 148 (GPS: 130148). The photo shows Kenneth at the junction of the Crest and Cienega trails.
Kenneth Ingham at the junction of trails 130 (Crest Trail) and 148 (Cienega Canyon)
A field of Star Solomon Seal

Now, you head down Cienega Canyon. One of the things you may see is the field of Star Solomon Seal.

After about an hour of hiking, you reach the junction with trail 195 (GPS: 148195). Go left.

Keep your eye open as you hike. Interesting critters like this one can be found waiting for a meal to come by.

The trail climbs a bit. In about 20 minutes, you will reach The junction with the Faulty Horse Bypass (GPS: CHBFT). Go left, which begins to descend.

The next junction is the Sulphur Canyon trail (GPS: SCTFT). Go straight, which takes you up and out of the canyon.

About half an hour more hiking, and you come to the junction with the Oso Corridor (GPS: FTOC). Take the Oso corridor, which begins to climb.

A little over an hour later, you reach the junction with the Tree Springs Trail. This should look familiar to you. Go right, which will return you to the trailhead.

A spider on a plant

Plants we saw along the trail:

Reader comments about this hike:

On Sat Jun 25 19:47:47 2005 J from Albuquerque NM said:
I've always loved hiking Tree Spring trail with kids. The views at the top are magnificing, but check the weather forecast. Sometimes clouds cover the crest. I've seen bear along the trail early in the morning, and have had a mountain lion cross the trail behind me while I was near the crest. Keep your eyes open.

Add your comments about the Tree Spring Loop hike.

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