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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Pioneer Trail #196, AZ

no permit
144 19 3
Guide 19 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
3.4 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,156 feet
Elevation Gain 1,644 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,637 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.79
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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15  2019-06-05
Pioneer Ferndell & Middle Trails
19  2018-06-30
East Pinals Loop
9  2018-06-30
East Pinals Loop
25  2018-05-05
Pinal Signal Peak Loop
10  2017-10-21 cindyl
8  2016-10-17 PrestonSands
16  2015-10-31
East Mountain Trail #214
8  2015-09-05
Pinal Mountain Eastern Loop
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:28pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Oak Alley
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Note: Written and previously know as Squaw Spring Trail #196

The Squaw Spring Trail is a lesser known route to the top of 7848 foot Pinal Peak, up the eastern side of the mountain. There are great views and beautiful forest along this hike.

Beginning at the Pioneer Pass Trailhead at the head of Pinal Creek, begin following the signed Squaw Spring Trail #196 up an old jeep road as it climbs away from the west side of Pioneer Pass. The road soon turns into an easily followed trail as it turns west to climb the ridge up to Pinal Peak. The first of many gambel oak tree groves begin to appear along here, as the trail continues its steady climb. After about a half mile, the trail turns north, and passes through some thickets of tall manzanita. There are some great views of the long ridge known as East Mountain, the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and the Dripping Springs Mountains through the forest of ponderosa, gambel oak, and new mexican locust. As the trail climbs higher, gambel oaks become the predominant tree. At the 7000 foot level, there are some small rocky mountain maple trees along the trail, and a couple larger ones are in the ravine to the north. A knee-high, fern-like groundcover begins to appear here, and will carpet the mountainsides along the trail for the rest of the way to the peak.

Once the trail reaches the 7200 foot saddle, the climb eases up for a short ways, before the last push to the summit. Continuing upward through a pine/fir forest you will soon come to the site of Squaw Spring and its series of black plastic water pipes, all of which is behind barbed wire and chain link fencing (probably to keep the cows out). I saw a little bit of stagnant water in a metal tub next to the trail. Be careful not to lose the trail here among the myriad of game trails (the Squaw Spring Trail stays south of the fenced area). Shortly past the spring, the switchbacks end, and the trail passes through a cattle gate. You're almost there. Just continue to follow the trail as it gently climbs a shallow, forested gulch. Soon the trail arrives at a meadow, and the radio towers come into view. The Squaw Spring Trail comes to an end at forest road 651, near the large dirt parking lot of the Pinal Peak Trailhead. The top of this sky island yields great views, and a few alpine fir trees among the gambel oaks. It is just a short walk to the official top of Pinal Peak (the radio towers directly in front of you). Return the way you came, and enjoy the views on the way down!

Check out the Official Route and 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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2006-10-26 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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    East Pinals Loop
    East Mountain Trail #214
    The lower access isn't winning any awards. The upper trailhead and top quarter mile are blah. The core delivers. Fabulous distant views through tall pines. Low expectations transitioned to wows throughout. Per usual @PrestonSands wrote a nice description. Apparently this trail has received well deserved maintenance since 2006. If hiking the Pinals out of Autumn foliage, this will be on my radar.

    Pioneer Trail #196
    This trail has received serious trail maintenance since 2013. Great trail. Signage still says Squaw Spring 196. FS website still calling it Pioneer Trail 196.

    Ferndell Trail #204
    Year 'round winner, worthy for any loop.

    Icehouse Canyon Trail #198
    Bruce noticed the upper end was remarkably groomed and cut well into the slope. He's always correct. We passed a group of 9 ACE workers tackling multiple areas. New large aluminum water trough built to last installed over a half mile north of Telephone junction. No fire damage in the top mile or so. The torching builds down to Telephone junction. All traveled fine. No trees to climb over on any of our loop today, just easily stepped over a couple.

    Telephone Trail #192 - Pinal
    Icehouse side is torched for the most part. Views over to Kellner and down Icehouse are torched. Sixshooter side pines are mostly intact with some mixed burn. Trail itself is in decent condition.

    Six Shooter Trail #197
    Always a winner. We thought the 3/4 mile to Ferndale sign was missing a solid mile. Perhap a quarter mile short, the steep grade just feels like an extra

    Better than anticipated multiple loop. We lucked out on temps averaging 5 degrees cooler than normal. 5k loops this close to the Sonoran Skillet in late June are likely not this nice.
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pinal Signal Peak Loop
    My hiking pals Gallydoll and Dan decided to join me on this loop I put together to beat the PHX heat. Drove out to Globe and then up to Pioneer Pass, the trailhead location. We passed through the NF campground en route and it was over flowing with tents and trucks. With all the people nearby, I was thinking we might not have the solitude I was expecting, but we saw no one on the trail.

    We started up Pioneer Trail (signed as Squaw Spring #196) about 7:30am. Very pleasant ascent passing through thick manzanita groves and tall pines. Checked out a fenced off spring near the top of the trail. After reaching the end of trail #196, we worked our way over to Ferndale Trail #204. Standing at the trail sign, Ferndale didn't look too promising, but once we were on it, we were rewarded with a nice stroll through more tall pines. Just before reaching the intersection of Six Shooter and the end of Ferndale, we spied a whitetail deer tracking our movements along the trail.

    We turned left onto Six Shooter trail #197 for a short jaunt up to the road and then followed the road out to Signal Peak. I was very disappointed to find that the Fire Lookout Tower is closed to visitors.

    We took in the views and returned on the road to Pipeline Trail #193. Pipeline was easy enough to follow, but starting to grow in here and there. After climbing over to a ridgeline, the trail looked like it passed through an engineered break in the fenceline, however, a faint trail, which turned out to be Middle Trail #202, headed east which was more in the direction I was interested in going. Well, faint was the best this trail got. We passed the terminus of Six Shooter and climbed over a bunch of fallen trees to get out to the road.

    We followed the road up to Pinal Peak proper, enjoyed the views for a bit and returned the way we came back down Squaw Spring trail. Temps were probably in the 70s on the top, and just over 80 at the trailhead. Sure beats 100+ back in Phoenix. Welcome to summer!
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Took the day off of work to heed the call of the Pinals and adventure. Did a bit of antiquing in Globe and then made my way up to Pioneer Pass. It had been ten years since I had last hiked this trail, and the good memories came flooding back as I started climbing the mountain side. The trail was in great shape, and recently groomed. I spooked a few deer along the way, and made it to the top in an hour. Next up was Ferndell Trail, which did not disappoint, with plenty of aspen gold and fiery maples. The fall colors drew me down the Sixshooter Trail a bit as well. Dozens of photos later, I made my way back up Sixshooter in the growing, late afternoon chill, and then turned onto the Middle Trail to complete my mountain top excursion. Admired the views to the south, and then made a quick return down the Pioneer Trail. Transmission trouble plagued my thoughts on the way home, but otherwise a perfect day. Adventures like these are far too few for me these days.

    All of these trails were in good shape. Only saw one fallen tree across the very upper end of Sixshooter. Good job trail crews!
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Added this hike to the list after reading the triplog posted by rayhuston on 9/5. We parked and started from the Una Del Oso TH and hiked the loop clockwise, Una Del Oso :next: Toll Road :next: East Mountain :next: Pioneer :next: Ferndell :next: Six Shooter. The gem was East Mountain, great trail, and forever views. Pioneer was a nice trail but sure was a slog up, I was sure glad to see those towers appear. We had lunch on top off the Ferndell Trail and boy was it cold. With the wind chill I suspect it was in the low 40's. Six Shooter looked a little battered at the top but the lower half was as nice as ever. Hit 112 and then hiked the half mile to the truck. No other hikers seen the entire trip.
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pinal Mountain Eastern Loop
    Pinal Mountain was on my mind for this weekend, but I wanted to do something other than the four popular trails, each of which I've hiked at least twice. I pulled up the Pinal Mtn map to see all of the possibilities. I found several trails on the east side that I hadn't been on. These new trails would get me to the top of the mountain from the east side and make a nice loop with one of the popular north/south trails on the downside (I chose Telephone). I started on Six Shooter and followed FR 112 a short distance to Una Del Oso.

    This would have been a great hike were it not for the steady rain starting on the East Mountain Trail all the way to Pinal Peak. Rather than enjoying expansive views, I was stuck in soup and rain for probably the nicest portion of the hike. As I approached the junction with Pioneer Trail, I couldn't even see Pinal Mountain, and it was right in front of me! By the time I got to the top of the Pioneer Trail, my boots were full of water and felt like lead.

    The trails on this route were mostly good to great. The Pioneer Trail near the top (last 1/2 mile or so) and the Ferndell trail were overgrown but nothing thorny enough to slow you down. A section of Six Shooter was washed out just above the junction with Telephone, but easy enough to get around.

    This was a great workout hike on mostly good trails. The views on East Mountain would have been spectacular were it not for the rain and fog. I think I will do this one again.
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pioneer-Bobtail Ridge Loop
    Joe's turn to pick and plan...he started Friday night around 8pm. So we were off to the Pinals to do some trails I've never been on, and that Joe never completed.

    Knew it was going to be one of those days when we missed the upper Pioneer #196 TH (Still signed as Squaw Spring #196). We turned around and saw the TH sign sticking out of the brush. At least this is friendly brush, and only lasted 3/4 mile. The pine trees kept coming and the views were quite nice.

    A short walk on FR112 and we were on an old Jeep trail that on the map, led past 2 mines.
    The first was a no show, the second had been filled in, but there were all sorts of interesting trinkets left behind.

    From this point we bailed on a portion that Joe had drawn up because it was just to "Thick". We scouted a route down to get us over the Bob Tail Ridge Trail. We found an area that had been cleared long ago, removing all the sharp crap. It was steep and loose, but ultimately got us down to FR221 unscathed.

    Now for the fun part... The Bobtail Ridge Trail #194. Joe mentioned (after we started the hike of course), that he's tried this trail from the top before. He said they'd bailed on going down because of the crappy conditions. I would not at all be surprised, if the last feet to touch this trail were Joe and Stillers 4 years ago. The GPS tracks we posted are actually "On Trail" for probably better than 95% of the time. The problem was that "The Trail" has all sorts of things growing in it that you have to go through, over, and under and love to rob you of your precious blood. My arms look like hamburger today. Sure the views were nice, but I would not recommend this trail to anyone, unless you are not playing with a full deck.

    We started up top in the morning at 72*, it got up to 94.5* for a high, and finished at 77* back up top. It was in the 90's for the climb up Bobtail Ridge trail.

    Saw 3 deer (one decent buck in velvet), a Woodpecker, blue jays, and 2 Coti running in front of the truck. We also could hear some Coti on the Pioneer Trail.
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pioneer Bobtail Loop
    I've been curious about Bobtail Ridge #194 after a failed attempt 4 years ago with Chris, Wally & Stefan. After careful planning I threw together a loop with two mines noted on topo. Knowing the destroyed nature of Bobtail it was necessary to put it last to be sure there would be no turning back.

    Pioneer Trail #196 is currently an all out friendly brush wade for roughly the upper 0.75 mile. This was my first time completing the lower end. It impressed me more than anticipated. The pines keep rolling all the way down to the lower end. There are a few non-pine stretches. The views are top notch IMO. I'd do this again in a heartbeat. On the way down we passed a family of all ages, a pleasant surprise.

    Next up were a couple old mines spotted on topo with some defunct roads viewable on satellite. Didn't look much for the first. It may be there but it isn't easily visible. The second was fairly well cleaned up based on other mines I've seen over the years. A few relics linger in the bushes if you look around. Of more interest to myself were the nice views.

    To get out of the tangled web I saw something that looked cleared but not a road heading straight back down to FS221. Took a bit to find but it worked nice albeit sliding steep in areas. Bruce called it, it appears to be a fire break.

    Back on FS221 we headed over to the bottom of Bobtail. Along the way we found a shady Arizona White Oak to make due for lunch. It wasn't particularly comfortable, the views aren't much from the lower end and it was the warmest segment of our loop... nevertheless a break

    Excitement kicked in approaching Bobtail as it has nagged my mind for years. No sign. Since it rides a pitched ridge it's difficult to see what lies ahead. From what I gathered this trail was not a Bruce "favorite". It could use a clip. A cairn here and there would make it easier to navigate. In the end Bruce looked like he'd jumped into a sausage grinder. It didn't seem like a Twin Peaks Trail #240 torture chamber yet I'm glad it's over. Outstanding views in the upper 2/3rds and nice pines in the upper half are the pleasant thoughts I take away.

    here and there, nothing to write home about
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I hadn't been out out this way before but found it an enjoyable trip. It's not very far out of Globe and gets you into the cool pines. A couple comments to augment the description:
    1. The road passes a few picnic areas near the top but you hit the trail (#196) right at the's not an obvious trailhead.
    2. The trail passes through nice manzanita before entering the pines and in some places is being swallowed by the spring greenery.
    3. Look both ways when you near the top...some folks bring their cars. I saw a white-tail deer among the microwave towers.
    4. When I got back to the car just for fun I continued South down the (narrowing) dirt road. I only went a couple miles to a fork before deciding that even with a map and GPS I had no idea if continuing was smart - so I retreated.
    Pioneer Trail #196
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We attempted the Bobtail Trail without much luck. It just doesn't really exist or perhaps we missed a turn. We only managed to go down one mile of the 2.3mi listed on the sign. Heading back we got off track. Plowing through a sixteenth of a mile of solid prickly bush with New Mexico Locust took an hour and about a pint of blood. Chris the one guy with pants didn't endure the fun. We got separated and headed over to #196 by directions etched in the dust of the truck. Heading down a good distance we were getting out of the pines and it seemed unlikely we hadn't found Chris. It was back to the trailhead for a couple hours of "Pine on the Boulder". After the Bactine bath I must admit I'm feeling pretty good now.

    Still uncommonly COOL temps for late June :)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From the highway 60/highway 188 junction in Globe, head east on hwy 60 for 2.9 miles. Turn left onto Broad Street at the stoplight. Follow Broad Street for 1.1 miles, then turn right at the fork, where you will immediately cross railroad tracks and a bridge (this becomes Six-Shooter Road). Follow Sixshooter Road for 0.9 miles, then turn right onto Icehouse Canyon road. After 1.75 miles on Icehouse Canyon Road, Kellner Canyon Road splits to the right. Stay left, and follow the road another 8.25 miles to Pioneer Pass (the site of Pioneer Pass Trailhead, 10.0 miles from Sixshooter Road).
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
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