Steep... very steep... but, Short!
This section of trail, while very short is an important link to the trail system in the Sacramento Mts. It is most important in providing a connection from the lower reaches of the trail system, t106, Dog Canyon trail, rising from the valley floor, up to the top of the mountains at the Sacramento Peak complex, Sunspot.
Very few people hike the full length of those trail connections. The official guide book specifies that it should be only hiked from the upper end down to the bottom, with a shuttle arranged to avoid the long, hard climb. In fact, the hike from the bottom through the exceptional Dog Canyon, up to the peak, and back down is very doable as a day hike for a hiker in reasonably good shape.
The Spur section is interestingly steep, and often overgrown. It gets very little use and tends to close up season to season, but it is hard to really lose. It climbs a ridge that is thickly overgrown; the path is not hard to find.
There is no reason to drive out to hike just this short spur hike. It makes sense to use this as a harder and shorter alternative to the "real" Road Canyon trail lower portion, heading up to Sunspot. It also is nice to use it to create creative loops when hiking Road Canyon, going up or down this steeper portion and including West Side road as a connection for the loops.
the Forest Service, may designate this trail portion as T234 Road Canyon Trail, and name the lower portion of Road Canyon (below the intersection of the spur) T234A... putting the spur over into Road Canyon...? So, this could cause confusion at the lower trailhead. The easy way to be sure of where you are: At West Side Road, immediately across from the trailhead is the Forest Road intersections for 90B and 90E. In fact, that is the best way to find the trailhead (until the new huge trailhead signs go up!)
If you are planning to loop along West Side road, it is 1.7 miles between T234 and T234A... a pleasant walk with distant vistas of the Tularosa Basin.
In winter, the snows can fold the thick growth down over the trail... better to use the more open Road Canyon trail. - Oct 09 2010 imikeOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example