Sulphur Spring – Bill Spring

Richard and I went to the east side of Sandia Mountain for a short Saturday afternoon hike. Our destination this time was a loop consisting of the Sulphur Spring Trail, connecting to the Faulty Trail, and returning by way of Bill Spring Trail.

Sulphur Canyon trailhead

From the parking area, Sulphur Canyon Trail begins a steady ascent to its terminus at the junction with Faulty Trail. Restrooms are located here at the trailhead.

Grassy Trail

Sulphur Canyon Trail begins with a pleasant walk through a grassy area.

Rose Hips

A summer thunderstorm had just passed through the area, leaving moisture on the foliage.

It was a rainy day. However, Weather Bug was reporting no precipitation on Sandia Crest, so we decided to take a chance. Despite some rain showers during the drive to the east side, it was not raining when we arrived at the Sulphur Canyon trailhead. the rain had obviously just stopped, as the foliage was still wet.

Wooded Trail

The trail soon changed from a grassy meadow to woodlands, as the elevation increased.

Faulty Trail Intersection

The Sulphur Spring Trail ends at the intersection with Faulty Trail. What appeared to be the obvious path was blocked by a pile of brush. A little bit of scouting around was necessary to find this trail marker around a corner, hidden by bushes.

View from Faulty Trail looking South

Faulty Trail follows a ridge, with comparatively little elevation change along its whole length. Through breaks in the trees, one can see the high plains.

After our encounters the week before with bears and rattlesnakes on the Armijo Trail, Richard was concerned about meeting up with more bears.  The warning sign at the trailhead didn’t help, and I’m afraid I added to the anxiety level by pointing out that our trail would intersect the Oso Corredor Trail for a short distance.  Oso Corredor is Spanish for Bear Corridor.

Unlike the previous week, we saw almost no wildlife.  An Abert’s Squirrel was peeking at us from up a Ponderosa Pine as we started the hike, but that was the extent of wildlife.

Juniper berries

I find that I am very allergic to Juniper pollen. Junipers pollinate on the wind (no bees required), and for me it's a good idea to stay off the mountain while they are pollinating. The resulting berries look pretty, though.

Checking GPS

Faulty Trail winds its way along a ridge through Ponderosa forest. I had loaded the route into our GPS units before the hike. Here Richard is checking his coordinates.

Uplifted rock layers near Bill Spring

Sandia Mountain experienced some serious gelogical uplift. Here is an example of some uplifted rock layers next to the Bill Spring Trail.

Sulphur Spring is located near the trailhead.  From there the trail begins a steady climb of about 300 feet to the intersection with Faulty Trail.  Faulty Trail is an interior trail — it does not directly connect to trailheads and is used a lot for connecting between other trails.  We used it to connect to Bill Spring Trail.

Near the connection to Bill Spring Trail was a connection to Oso Corredor Trail. This was the highest point on the trail, at about 7800 feet, about 600 feet above the trailhead. At the Bill Spring Trail intersection, the trail takes a switchback and begins a descent, parallel to the Faulty trail we had just traversed.

Small spring along Bill Spring Trail

A small stream tumbles along beside Bill Spring Trail. Bill Spring itself is not signed, so I'm not certain this is Bill Spring, but it is at least close to this location.

Wolf Spring Trail sign

It's possible to take a shortcut along the Wolf Spring trail from the Doc Long picnic area to the Sulphur Spring parking area. We just followed the paved trail to the Crest highway and turned the corner to get to our car. Note the bear warning posted on the trail sign.

Bill Spring Trail took us to the Doc Long picnic area.  Probably due to the wet weather, we saw no picnickers.  We walked all the way through the picnic area to the Crest Highway, then walked around the corner to the Sulphur Canyon trailhead.

Sulphur Spring - Bill Spring Elevation Profile

Here's the elevation profile for this hike. After returning to the car, I walked up to the restrooms located at the Sulphur Spring trailhead. This accounts for the elevation difference between the beginning and ending of the hike.

More pictures of this hike, with photos geolocated to where they were taken, are available at Sulphur Spring – Bill Spring Loop at EveryTrail. Roll your mouse over the pins on the map below to get a thumbnail of the photos.

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