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Pipeline Trail to Signal Peak, AZ

Guide 13 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  2.5 of 5 
no permit
1 Active
56 13 1
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,720 feet
Elevation Gain 290 feet
Accumulated Gain 464 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.72
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2017-10-14
Pinals 2x Wussy Loop
14  2014-10-18
Pinal Mountains 4X Super Loop
5  2014-08-08
Ferndell Trail #204
10  2013-10-27
Pinal 1/2 4X Not So Super Loop
22  2011-10-30 Randal_Schulhaus
6  2010-10-28
Kellner Canyon Trail #242
45  2010-07-30
Six Shooter Trail #197
26  2010-07-30
Six Shooter Trail #197
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,617
Trips 1,516 map ( 7,711 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, May, Jun, Aug → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:32am - 7:27pm
5 Alternative

more sky island fun
by PrestonSands

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The Pipeline Trail #193 is one of several short trails on the top of Pinal Peak. The Pipeline, Middle, and Ferndell Trails serve as connectors between the three major trails that climb Pinal Peak. With elevations in the mid 7000's and a beautiful forest mix of pine, fir, and aspen, these trails, although short, offer a cool retreat in summer and vivid color in the fall.

This hike describes a trek along the Pipeline Trail from the Bobtail Ridge Trailhead to the top of 7812-foot Signal Peak. Much of the hike along the Pipeline Trail requires some route-finding skills due to damage from the 2000's Peak Fire. However, those who are not looking for a route-finding challenge can bypass the Pipeline Trail altogether and hike up the fire road to the top of Signal Peak.

Starting at the Bobtail Ridge Trailhead, begin heading downhill on the Bobtail Trail #194. The Bobtail Trail switchbacks down for a quarter mile or so before arriving in a flat saddle area, where the trail disappears. Just before reaching a lone group of tall, surviving ponderosa pines, there is an unsigned trail junction (33.28317 N, 110.83095 W) for the Pipeline Trail. I built a modest-sized cairn here; hopefully, it won't collapse. The Pipeline Trail turns north here and immediately begins climbing a little as it heads for a west-facing slope. Within a short distance, the trail becomes a bit more defined and easier to follow. There are some nice views to the west here, down Mill Creek canyon, as the Pipeline Trail contours through the burned forest. Wildflowers and new growth bring some hope for this area. Continuing, the trail zigzags down an open, grassy ridge with views of Signal Peak. At 0.5 miles, the Pipeline Trail arrives at the signed junction (33.28516 N, 110.83060 W) with the Middle Trail, then switchbacks off of the ridge, into unburned forest and plentiful greenery. The Pipeline Trail briefly becomes a little faint once again as it passes along the west side of the Pinal Recreation Area. At the one mile point, the Pipeline Trail comes to an end at forest road 651 (33.28919 N, 110.83100 W). A sign indicating Trail #193 marks the junction.

To reach the top of Signal Peak, turn left onto forest road 651 and follow it a short distance (0.1 miles) to a gated side road on the left. Hop over the gate and head northwest up the side road. Thick firs and bigtooth maples provide ample shade as the road climbs along the tops of Sixshooter and Icehouse Canyons on the north face of Signal Peak. After 0.6 miles, the road comes to an end at the fire lookout tower on top of Signal Peak. During the mid-1880s, the U.S. Army used Signal Peak as a link in its chain of mountain top heliographs that stretched across central and southeastern Arizona (a heliograph was a mirror that could communicate morse-code messages over long distances by reflecting sunlight). For some awesome views, climb the fire tower, or head over to the overlook a couple of hundred feet west of the summit, where there is an interpretive sign. Four Peaks, Superstition Mountain, Mt. Lemmon, and other peaks can be seen from Signal Peak.

Head back the way you came, or take the FR651 back to your vehicle for an easier return trip.

Check out the Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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2007-05-16 PrestonSands
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Bobtail Trailhead
    For best results use this Upper Pinal Trailheads

    At the junction of highways 60 & 188 in Claypool, turn right (south) onto Russell Road

    Odometer 0.0
    - South on Russell Road for 0.35 miles
    - DO NOT continue on Golden Hill, Russell turns right
    - Continue to 0.65 miles
    - DO NOT continue on Rose Mofford Way, Russell turns left
    - At 6.3 miles you reach FR 651

    Odometer 0.0
    - Turn right (south) on FR 651 ( dirt road )
    - Continue to 10.25 mi, stay right at the fork
    - At 10.95 miles, there is a sign for Dead End Road/FR 651E. Turn right, and follow FR 651E for 0.1 miles to its end, at the Bobtail Ridge Trailhead. There is a wooden trail sign here for the Bobtail Trail.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 93.9 mi - about 2 hours 2 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - about 3 hours 4 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - about 4 hours 7 mins
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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