Casa Loma Route to the southern Faulty Trail

Faulty Trail, Sandia Mountains, Cibola National Forest, New Mexico
Lower portion of the Casa Loma route


The Faulty Trail is easily accessed at its north end and south ends. Sadly, access to the middle portion, via Cañoncito Road, was lost when a local land owner posted his property against trespass. The route described here is a partial substitute, allowing you to access the southern half of the Faulty Trail without using the Crest Trail. It’s a sketchy, rocky unofficial trail, for experienced hikers only.


Access to the trailhead is through a neighborhood. Let's keep those folks happy, so this access point doesn’t vanish as well. Please limit your use of the undeveloped trailhead to parking, don’t go tearing through the neighborhood, and keep the noise down as you start and end your hike.


To reach the trailhead from Albuquerque, take I-40 east and exit at Tijeras. Once on the off ramp, stay right, then turn left (NE) at the traffic light onto NM 333. Half a mile later, turn left onto NM 14 (the Turquoise Trail) and pass under I-40. Continue north. At 35 deg. 6.607 min. N, 106 deg. 22.441 min. W, turn left (west) onto Casa Loma Road. Follow this west about 0.6 mile, where you cross onto national forest land. 


The final bit of road is unpaved and rough, so you’ll need a high clearance vehicle. At 35 deg. 6.679 min. N, 106 deg. 23.103 min. W is an elevated bare patch where you can park. An unofficial path starts at the far end of that bare patch and heads up the local canyon—at first more or less west, then NNW. 


At 35 deg. 7.141 min. N, 106 deg. 23.520 min. W, the trail brings you to a pair of ponderosas. Pass to their left. From this point on, you’re mostly in high trees. The trail heads into a steep, narrow section of canyon and bends southwest. In this section the trail mostly vanishes but the route is straightforward: keep in or very close to the dry stream bed, going over or around fallen trees.


As you emerge from the steep section you’ll find yourself in a mostly brush-free ponderosa park. Pine needles have carpeted the ground, hiding any trail that might have existed. At 35 deg. 7.080 min N, 106 deg. 23.783 min. W, you’ll encounter the first of a series of cairns that mark the rest of the route. Head south and west, up the now-shallow drainage. The last of the cairns is at 35 degrees 7.031 min. N, 106 deg. 23.822 min. W. The Faulty Trail is 55 meters uphill from that cairn. If the junction of the Casa Loma route and the Faulty Trail is marked, I didn’t see it.


If you turn south on the Faulty Trail, in about a third of a mile (airline) you’ll reach the junction of the upper and lower branches of the Faulty Trail. If you turn north on the Faulty Trail from the Casa Loma trail, you can explore for several miles. In either direction the trail takes you through mostly gentle terrain that’s well-shaded by ponderosas and little used by hikers.


Casa Loma route, Sandia Mountains, Cibola National Forest, New Mexico
The payoff: getting to explore the southern Faulty Trail.