in the middle of aspens
The Middle Trail #202 is one of several short trails on the top of Pinal Peak. The Pineline, Middle, and Ferndell Trails serve as connectors between the three major trails that climb Pinal Peak itself. 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.
The Middle Trail could be used in conjunction with the Pineline Trail, Ferndell Trail, and the various branches of forest road 651 to create a short, mountain top loop hike on Pinal Peak. Middle to late October would probably be a good time to see the aspens change color, on this short and easy hike.
From the trailhead on forest road 651C, the Middle Trail heads west into a dense fir forest on the northern slope of Pinal Peak. A few exceptionally large aspens are shortly encountered, as the trail leaves the road behind. Before long, the Middle Trail enters a pleasant grove of aspen, as it winds around the top of a little draw. Around 0.2 miles, the Middle Trail arrives at the upper end of the Sixshooter Canyon Trail #197, in the heart of the aspen grove. Past the Sixshooter junction, the Middle Trail turns northwest, and begins a gentle ascent through beautiful pine-fir forest. A knee high, leafy, green groundcover carpets the forest floor along here, adding to the beauty of the area. At 0.35 miles, the Middle Trail arrives at the main branch of forest road 651. Cross the road here, and follow the trail west, as it heads up a short hill. The trail soon reaches a little saddle, then begins descending to the west, around a shallow drainage. The many cut logs along the trail here are the result of a forest service tree thinning project. As the Middle Trail continues its gentle descent through the forest, occasional gaps in the trees yield glimpses of Signal Peak to the northwest. At 0.6 miles, the Middle Trail comes to an end, where it meets the Pineline Trail #193 at a signed junction.
Return the way you came, or continue along on the more primitive Pineline Trail.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking 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.