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Six Shooter-Ice House-Telephone Loop, AZ
mini location map2016-05-28
22 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Six Shooter-Ice House-Telephone Loop, AZ 
Six Shooter-Ice House-Telephone Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar May 28 2016
Hiking13.63 Miles 4,222 AEG
Hiking13.63 Miles   8 Hrs   5 Mns   2.08 mph
4,222 ft AEG   1 Hour   31 Mns Break
1st trip
Explored new territory today in my introductory hike to the Pinals. Took the family up Six Shooter, over to Signal Peak, then down Icehouse Canyon and the lower half of Telephone Trail. Some beautiful country.

Loved the canopy-covered forest hiking, particularly in the upper half of both Six Shooter and Ice House.

After a round about effort to locate Icehouse Canyon Road (see my note on the driving directions), we arrived at the TH around 8:15 a.m. No other cars to speak of in the CCC, other than the camp host. We headed up Six Shooter trail. The manzanita is thick in the lower section, and in places has a bit of the feeling of a navigating a labyrinth.

Once under the canopy of the trees, the trail took on a new character. The shade was welcome, even though the temps were relatively pleasant. The constant climb keeps the internal temps up.

We came across one set of mountain bikers making their way down the trail and only passed a small handful of hikers near the top of the trail. Otherwise, the solitude was great.

We poked our heads in the two mine shafts and checked out what remains (not much) of the old sawmill at about the 4.5 mi. mark. The descent and flat-ish section leading to the mines/mill were a welcome reprieve from the climb.

After lunch at the mill, the ascent proceeded in earnest from that point to the Ferndell Spring/road junction. We opted to take the road over and up to Signal Peak, as the triplogs suggested the views from there were somewhat better than from Pinal Peak.

There was a ranger in the firetower, but unfortunately, we did not get an invite up :cry: His truck had a Bernie bumpersticker on it. Perhaps he could sense we were not feeling the Bern ... ;)

We enjoyed the (mostly southerly) views anyway from the vantage point we had at ground level, and took some photos of the plentiful ladybugs. Then, we went cross country downhill to the road leading to the Icehouse Canyon Trail, where the canopy tour continued. I can see why this is trail is a draw for the fall-color crowd. I imagine it can put on a pretty amazing display. The summer-time views weren't too shabby either. :y:

We had originally planned to take Icehouse all the way down, but based on the suggestion in the Icehouse Canyon hike description, we opted to veer off on the Telephone Trail for the lower portion of the return trip. We loved it! That said, we were very glad to have a GPS route downloaded on Route Scout to assist with finding our way, as there are several places where we otherwise would have gone astray. Specifically: (1) The turn off from Icehouse Canyon is marked by a sign, but it is almost totally obstructed by the nearby overhanging tree. And the trail at the turn off is rather faint. Even though we were looking out for the turn off, we initially missed it, but RS helped get us straight quickly; (2) Further on, the trail goes through a fence and dumps you onto a maintenance road. About 20-30 yards down the road, the trail peels off on a switchback to the left. However, this switchback is not marked in any way and we walked right past it. Once again, RS helped us figure out the error, and backtracking with a close eye on the route, we located the descending switchback. (3) Finally, the trail once again merges for a quarter of a mile or so down a steep cleared path (where I presume telephone lines are buried?), before peeling off again to the right on a switchback. Again, this switchback is very faintly marked and would be easy to miss w/o some GPS assistance.

Navigation aside, in contrast to Six Shooter and Icehouse, Telephone ditched the canopy cover and provided unobstructed views of all things to the north, as well as a vantage point for looking across the drainage and back up the to Signal Peak, etc. Beautiful. Along the way, my two daughters were leading the pack when I (in the back) heard them running back up the trail, saying they had come across a rattlesnake! :scared: I carefully went forward on the trail to assess the situation. When I got in the vicinity, the snake rattled briefly, but was so well camouflaged that it took me a good 2-3 minutes to figure out exactly where he was. Finally, I spotted him--a black rattlesnake (first I've encountered in the wild)--several yards off the trail and not really a threat. That said, he was coiled up an astutely observing my every move. After some photos, we bypassed him safely and continued our descent.

Other fauna sightings included a horny toad and what I think is a skink--it had small legs like a lizard, but moved more like a snake. I'll leave it to @gummo and other experts to id this guy (see photos). Given recent coatimundi sightings in the area, we were on the look out, but alas, no luck. My kids, though, got a kick out of the term coatimundi, and were convinced for a long time that I was just making that name up. Google image search when we got home restored my credibility. :lol:

Before hitting the Telephone Trail, we veered off on the road marked on Fritzki's map to see if we could locate the "cave" referenced. Turned out to be another mine. Feeling adventurous, we donned our headlamps and explored a bit. I'd estimate it goes back several hundred yards with several side tunnels. Some water is pooling on the floor.

By the time we got back to the car, the temps were in the upper 80s and we were ready to get some grub. Stopped in Globe for Wendy's (the Frostee's hit the spot), and then headed back to the real heat.

All in all, a great trip and another cool place in AZ visited. :y:

(GPS Note: For some reason, RS and my Garmin had a mileage discrepancy of almost a full mile--Garmin logged 12.8 miles, while RS logged 13.6. Never had them be that far apart. Not sure which is more accurate.)
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