La Cienega / Faulty / Armijo Trail Hike

I didn’t get out much at all last week as my work pile had gotten deep! But I did get out for a long hike one day.  Scarlett and I needed it! I decided to do a loop trail I hadn’t hiked in a few years.  The last time I hiked it I did it in the reverse order of Armijo / Faulty / La Cienega.  I remember doing a lot of steady climbing for most of the hike.  So I decided to do it counterclockwise this time.  This way I did much shorter  but steeper climbs at the beginning and end.  I liked the route much better!  Overall Scarlett and I hiked 5.3 miles with a 1,000 foot elevation gain.

Looking at my hiking trail book, I noticed that La Cienega and the Pino trail connect at the top.  Some day I’m going to hike up the east side of the Sandia Mountain starting at La Cienega and go back down the west side on Pino.  Should be a fun, long hike!

It was a gorgeous summer day and Scarlett and I got an early start.


We hit the trail as the sun was rising

Since it was so early, there were lots of birds about.  Most of them were way up high in the canopy or moving too fast to catch a pic.


Red-Naped Sapsucker


Western Scrub Jay


Hairy Woodpecker


Spotted Towhee

As I moved up the canyon, I noticed quite a few hummingbirds feeding on the hillside.  The summer foliage was thick with blooms so it was a challenge to capture photos of them.


Broad-Tailed Hummingbird


Rufous Hummingbird

Then I noticed quite a number of MacGillivray’s Warblers about.  They are such beautiful birds but so very difficult to capture on film.  They are small and move so FAST! After taking probably 30o photos, I managed to get maybe 3 or 4 decent ones.


MacGillivray’s Warbler


MacGillivray’s Warbler

As I was coming down the Armijo trail, I noticed that the spring was flowing in one small area creating a pool.  There were lots of birds visiting this pool.  I couldn’t resist staying awhile and watching what came in to drink.  The birds mostly stayed deep in the brush bordering the water, but a few came out in the open.


Chipping Sparrow


Red-Breasted Nuthatch

The Pine Siskins came in great numbers to bathe.  So adorable to watch.


Pine Siskins

The a lone chickadee landed right at my feet and started to bathe.  I was thrilled!


Mountain Chickadee


Mountain Chickadee


He was really enjoying his bath!

As I was making my way to my car, I realized I was a quarter-mile short of hiking 5 miles.  I couldn’t stop then! So I headed back up the Cienega trail to see what butterflies might be about as the day had warmed up nicely.  There were butterflies all about enjoying the summer wildflowers.


Common Checkered Skipper


I think this is a Pearl Crescent female


Russet Skipperling


Western Tiger Swallowtail


Margined Mustard  White


Popular sunflower!!!  This Juniper Hairstreak is having to share this flower with quite a few other bugs.

Here’s a pic of Scarlett showing how the trail was almost choked by the summer foliage.


But the best spot was at the side of the stream where the soil was moist.  A real party was going on.  I just had to sit on a rock and watch and stayed there for about 15 minutes.  So many beautiful butterflies about.


Lots of butterflies enjoying the wet soil.

Here’s some closeups of the butterflies there.


American Lady


Acmon Blue


Atlantis Frittilary in front


Small Wood-Nymph


Atlantis Frittilary


Marine Blue


Weidemeyer’s Admiral


Hoary Comma


Margined Mustard White


Some kind of Skipper.  That group is difficult for me to identify.


Silver-Spotted Skipper


Spring Azure


Mourning Cloak


Weidemeyer’s Admiral


Mourning Cloak


California Sister

I guess after hiking 5 miles I had quite a bit of salty sweat on my skin.  The butterflies were attracted to it and flew around me.  One got brave enough to land and enjoy.  🙂


Orange Skipperling

I had thought all the white butterflies were Margined Mustard Whites.  But then I noticed one that looked different.  I realized it was a Mexican Yellow.


Mexican Yellow

While sitting there, I noticed little Miss Scarlett was about to nod off.


Miss Scarlett resting…almost asleep sitting up 🙂

Eventually she gave in and took a nap. 🙂


Miss Scarlett enjoying a snooze in the shade.

What a wonderful morning out!  Overall I ended up hiking 5.3 miles.  🙂


My sweet Miss Scarlett

At the home front, the baby Cooper’s Hawk is growing up quickly.  I’ve mostly avoided the nest so as to not disturb the family.  I check in about once a week.


Baby Cooper’s Hawk

I’ve also had a Ladderback Woodpecker show up recently to get bark butter to feed its young.  I wasn’t able to get a pic of it feeding, as the baby insisted on staying up in the pine needles just out of view.  But they have been coming by almost every day this week.


Ladderback Woodpecker







7 thoughts on “La Cienega / Faulty / Armijo Trail Hike

  1. What a wonderful morning you and Miss Scarlet had! Your photos are so beautiful! I am amazed at the wide variety of butterflies that you spotted; I imagine that you had a great time capturing them:-)

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