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The Best Hikes of Pinal Trails

816 Triplog Reviews in the Pinal Trails
Most recent of 196 deeper Triplog Reviews
6.17 mi • 3,380 ft aeg
Day hiked this to get a look at what the foliage looks like. I’ll call it different than usual and past peak. The heat and drought I’m sure has all to do with it. Just about every maple had a two colored camo look to them, even the ones that are still green. The majority of the maples that had already peaked or are at peak (?) had a very dull look to them unlike the typical vibrant colors. Ran into another solo hiker and she told me that she had an encounter with a Momma Bear and 2 cubs a few minutes earlier in the vicinity of the Six Shooter/Icehouse connector trail. Ferndell spring is still flowing at about a quart per minute.
1.6 mi • 280 ft aeg
Wanted to take a drive and get some scenery in while escaping the heat. Decided on Ferndell. It's changed since the fire a couple years ago and with all the rain we had over the spring, there was lots of growth. At the end of the trail, went to the big boulder and climbed up for the view. On the way back, we took FR651 back to the Sixshooter and made a loop back to the car. I wish I knew the history of the area. You can tell there were a couple of settlements back in the day with power/water lines. Almost appears as there was major cattle herding back in the day. Great day to be out.
18.43 mi • 5,425 ft aeg
Pinal 4X Light
Joe said this hike practically hikes itself. I’d figure this triplog would type itself but I had to recruit BrunoP to ghost write for me.

Can I help you with that? If you could have seen Joe’s look, it was priceless. I’m the proud recipient of the bronze medal. Joe said it was the 3rd most scared he haz ever been. I felt bad for about 3 seconds and then laughed. Bruce wishes he had it on video. It wasn’t my plan to scare him that way but the hike was off to a good start.

The car ride to the hike is sometimes better than the hike and the hike is usually better than the ride home. The last time I hiked in the Pinals was 10 years ago, you can search for my in-depth description on Oct 11, 2008.
Ralph and Alice haven’t changed much since I last saw them. They still complete each other's sentences and like to do side by side comparisons. Ethel asked Fred what is your battery level? Fred said 62% and of course Ethel said I’m higher at 68%. Are you in airplane mode? My track is longer. Blah...blah...blah. Wilma said smile and Fred said capture. Archie said bad words and so did Edith and so did I.

A quarter mile into the hike bam Eagle down. The conversation went to past hikes about blood and cactus needles. Next up, the leafers were ohhhhing and ahhhhing. They weren’t impressed with the brown pines like I was though. They also weren’t in as big a hurry to eat lunch as I was. Joe shared his awesome cashews as a precursor to what was to come. You take the good with the bad. I decided I’d wait for the bad until the downhill and it made me sick to my stomach. Whenever anybody says these are horrible but you should try it, remember to politely just throw it at them. We played Denny and the Jets and all that rhyme with it . It is always an experience hiking with Joe and Bruce and memories new and old are forged. We saw several cows and Joe stole one of the utters. Bruce was crushing on 31.

18.31 mi • 5,236 ft aeg
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 mile...lol

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.
11.38 mi • 3,194 ft aeg
Checked with the Fire closure expert and he confirmed that the Pinal's were open. Not much has changed since my last visit here. Took sixshooter up to Ferndell Spring and then returned on the Telephone Trail and finally the Icehouse Trail. When I arrived the Forest Service was working on the gate so I had to park up the road just a bit. Anyway the Sixshooter is in great shape and is an enjoyable hike. The fire did enough damage that the Telephone Trail isn't all that great. Some downed trees and lots of burned terrain. All in all a great hike. Stopped at El Rey afterwards for some tasty Mexican Food.
5.7 mi • 2,153 ft aeg
Telephone Ridge - Icehouse Loop
Just what Tracey ordered, a beat-the-heat hike... instead of 103°, we suffered in the range from 62° to 70°.

On the drive up FR 651 we encountered a road crew doing a lot of erosion repair, at least some was as a result of fires over the last few years.

The hike on Telephone Ridge began easy enough until the steep downhill, when it wasn't long before the knees began their complaints. But as enjoyable as the day was I simply chose to ignore the complaints.

About a mile down the ridge we hit first of the burnt manzanita, which will continue for the next 2+ miles. My first thought, upon pondering all the black-and-blue marks I gained over the years while bush-whacking through manzanita, was, hmmm, manzanita is best enjoyed burnt.

Immediately my next thought was how can I show the beauty presented by burnt manzanita? So... if you decide to browse through the photoset, be forewarned, there are a LOT of burnt manzanita photos.

Finally out of the manzanita, we stopped at Doghouse Spring and soon found a few nice flat boulders for our picnic spot. While we were munching/cat-napping/'soaking' in the sounds of the babbling brook, a hummingbird decided to grace us with its presence, flitting back-and-forth a few times before dropping into the creek, first for a drink of water, then diving right in for a bath.

Whoa! By time I realized the opportunity, got my camera out and on, the bird-bath was over. ](*,)

But wait! On a hunch it may return, I left the camera on and waited, keeping the focus on the spot in the creek, and sure enough, the hummingbird returned for another round of bathing.
Wow! Here it is, a rare glimpse of a bathing hummingbird that I could capture on video! :y:

HOWEVER, unbeknownst to me until this moment , the SDHC card in my camera was unable to keep up with the 4K data-stream, to which the camera responded enough! and stopped filming. ](*,)
(Weird... because I've done a number of panorama videos with the same card with no issues. Could it be less data transfer was required for videos with lots of same-color sky, as compared to a complex background behind the hummingbird?)

WHATEVER... the video clip of the actual bath is barely 9 seconds. :doh:
I inserted the only still photo I had at the beginning of the clip and posted it on YouTube:
Video - Hummingbird bathing at Doghouse Spring

Ok, lunch, nap & excitement over, time for the arduous climb back up Icehouse Canyon. : rambo :
Other than the huffing-and-puffing, heart-pounding interspersed with a series of short breaks, the only excitement on the ascent was a snake encounter.

In the first instant I stopped dead, and without time to think I said Coral Snake! But once my old-and-slow brain kicked in and managed to retrieve yellow-on-black, friend of Jack from long-term memory, I realized it was an Arizona Mountain Kingsnake... nothing to be concerned with, except, GET A PHOTO!

Unfortunately, although I stopped 8-10 feet from the snake, by time I got the camera out it already felt vulnerable and immediately skedaddled under a log. ](*,)

Oh well, I'll have to settle for a few partial shots. But now if I happened to be a gummo-style herpetologist, I suppose I could have coaxed it out, wrapped it around my arm and got a selfie-with-snake, but Tracey was having none of that.

From then on it was simply moving onward and upward back to the car. Oh wait, one more thing... a new plastic pipeline has been laid roughly along the trail (replacing a fire-melted pipe?) with a new aluminum tank yet to be connected about halfway up. (See the tank photo for a bit of mirth... possibly, you'll have to have a sense of humor)

In the end it was another great day to be out enjoying the maples and pines... ok, the manzanita as well, as long as it's burnt. :M2C:

FINAL NOTE: I have since remedied the too-slow SDHC card, which failed to live up to it's advertised speed... beware of knock-off imitations. The card stated up to 90MB/sec, but when I ran a 'Black Magic' Disk Speed Test it barely reached 31MB/sec when writing. The replacement I got actually hits a 88MB/sec read AND write speed.
9.88 mi • 2,478 ft aeg
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!
12.5 mi • 3,850 ft aeg
Up the Icehouse, over on roads through the developed area of cabins, on to Pinal Peak, which was a little of a let down and the best views were either on the road heading over, or on the middle Six Shooter later on, then descended a little to the 204, and took that to the Six Shooter. Used Linda's edited GPS route for AEG, guessed on the miles.

Fire changes were about what I expected in the lower elevations, with a little more pine and oak mortality in the lower forest area, with almost no mortality or damage in the maple and aspen on the Icehouse. Steeper north facing slopes seemed to have the most affects on the Six Shooter. Most of the Pinals didn't look like they should have, or would have 150 years ago, so if nothing else, things may eventually return to prior conditions, if there are continued lower intensity fires.

Probably earlier than ideal for this hike, as the leaves aren't out, and due to the wind there didn't appear to be bird calls. Lower level dust or wind blown filth hazed out the longer distance and even middle distance views. It was still nice.

The 2 main peaks here gave me more of an appreciation for the Mazatzals, as these are covered in trees and or microwave towers, where as Mazatzal Peak and north peak, are not, neither is Brown's. Aztec is nice, too, but pretty far from home for me, and trees and the flat nature of that summit make it less of a peak than a plateau. Just a thought.
27.29 mi • 7,302 ft aeg
We went up to Globe the night before to get an early start but even with that we still got late start. About an hour behind schedule we just assumed there would be some night hiking at the end. There is also a gate that is locked at night so we parked down the road which added some mileage.

Our route for the 4X was up Telephone Ridge to the road on top. Then hit Signal Peak and Pinal Peak walking the road between the two. Down to Ferndell Spring on trail #204 and the spring area which had some color but a bit past peak. From there down Six Shooter #197 trail which had some better stretches of foliage lower down and probably the nicest part of 4X. Six Shooter back to the vehicle where we had some lunch and resupply for the second half.

At this point we were at 16 miles so second half was shorter but it was also 230. We headed up Icehouse Canyon Trail #198 with upper Icehouse being the most fall scenic similar to Six Shooter but still past peak. Trail was in good shape and arrived at the road for the easy walk over to Kellner Canyon Trail #242. Down Kellner was relatively easy section with our only obstacle being hiking final stretch in the dark. We managed to get most of way down Kellner before dark but ended up with about hour and half night hike.

It was interesting to see these trails post fire. There has been quite a bit of trail maintenance on all the trails to varying degrees. Kellner had probably the most impressive work in the middle 2 miles which experienced severe burn. Also most of the severe fire damage is in the lower half of the mountain with the top showing only patchy damage at most. Looks like the work is still in progress so hopefully they will be able to work on the worst wash outs and erosion.

Foliage
Past peak but there was still some good color in upper Six Shooter and Icehouse. Mostly maples with a few aspens hanging on.
12.22 mi • 3,423 ft aeg
Took Sixshooter up to Ferndel Spring and back. Not much has changed since Wally and I were there a month ago. As noted by Chums and others there is some Fall color but it isn't in its prime yet. I would say the best color was between the turn for Telephone trail and the Spring.

I didn't make the loop back on the Telephone trail like I usually do because Sixshooter is in much better shape and is easier on the knees. Weather was in the high 60's for the whole hike. :y:
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