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Sixshooter Trail Loop Hike - Tonto National Forest

Summary: A steep loop hike in the Pinal Mountain Recreation Area south of Globe with an optional detour to Ferndell Spring and Pinal Peak (though neither destination is very interesting). Route mainly follows the Sixshooter Trail up, then back along the Telephone Trail.
Directions: From Phoenix, drive east on route 60 to Globe. Just past mile marker 251, after crossing the one major bridge in town, turn left at the light onto Hill Street (zero your odometer). You will soon hit a stop sign, turn right, then left over a small bridge, following the brown signs for Pinal Mountain Recreation Area. After 1.2 miles, turn right onto Icehouse Canyon Road (Forest Road 112). Drive 1.8 miles to a stop sign, go straight through the intersection and continue another 2 miles to the end of the pavement. Another 0.5 miles will bring you to the signed left branching turn off (FR 112B) for the CCC Camp picnic area. Turn left and drive a short distance to the picnic area and park. The picnic area has picnic tables and a bathroom, but was trashed when I was here. Be careful where you walk, there is broken glass everywhere.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Moderate - well defined trail with a few moderately tricky turns
Length: 9 - 12 miles
Date Hiked: October 2003
Weather Conditions: Overcast
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the CCC Camp picnic area, walk east past a low cable fence to the trailhead. The wide dirt path begins by winding its way east through chaparral consisting of manzanita, scrub oak and sugar sumac. A short walk will bring you to a signed junction, stay right on the Sixshooter Trail #197. Soon, the path bends right (south) and begins climbing moderately beside the wide and shallow drainage of Sixshooter Creek where some shade is provided by alligator juniper and Gambel oak. After a mile you will cross a dirt road; the trail picks up immediately on the other side where a sign indicates that the Telephone Trail is 4 miles ahead, Ferndell is 5. After passing through a black metal gate, the path continues its moderate ascent, crossing the streambed a few times eventually becoming more forested as you climb. When the trail heads out of the drainage on the left into a pine covered area, it becomes fairly steep (though I don't mean to discourage you, it remains this way for the rest of the climb to the summit). The path crosses the streambed 2 more times, then climbs away from the drainage on the left, eventually passing through an area where a few downed trees cross the path, before joining up with an old mining road. The path then levels out (and even loses a bit of elevation) as it traverses the hillside west until it reaches an old mine entrance (on the left, full of water when I was here) and the signed junction with the right branching Telephone Trail #192 (5 miles). Those wishing to complete a 9 mile hike can head down the Telephone Trail; however, we will continue on to Ferndell Spring. The path begins climbing steeply once more until you reach an unsigned junction with a right branching trail. Straight will take you towards Pinal Peak, the spring is right. Heading right, you soon reach the spring (which is fenced off and capped by a small pump house) and a sign on the left indicating Pinal Campground is 1/2 miles, Pinal Peak Trailhead 3/4 miles (6 miles). To visit the peak, turn left. You'll soon see a path that enters from the left (this is the other end of the unsigned trail you passed earlier). Stay straight, cross over a few more downed trees and you'll soon reach an unsigned trail that branches right. This path will bring you to the Pinal Campground (which has several camp sites with picnic tables and a bathroom), but we'll stay straight and soon reach the signed trail for the camp in a stand of quaking aspen trees. Stay straight and soon you'll reach the Pinal Peak summit, which doesn't really have any views, except those of several large radar arrays which protrude above the surrounding trees. When ready, return the way you came, maybe paying a visit to the campground on the way back (instead of walking all the way back to Ferndell Spring you may want to take that unsigned trail on the right, which soon joins the Sixshooter Trail). Ok, once you've returned to the Telephone Trail junction, turn left onto this path (8 miles). The Telephone Trail crosses the streambed then passes the remnants of an old building before joining an old mining road. The road appears little used and is covered with many tree branches, but soon becomes more distinct as it traverses the hillside to the west, and begins descending gradually. The path passes through some corridors of manzanita, then drops down along a ridge with good views to either side and to the north. The path continues descending to the west (orange and pink flagging tape mark the way), passes through a fence (please close the gate), then heads south to eventually reach a signed junction with the left branching Icehouse Trail (10 miles). Stay straight (towards the CCC Rec Site) and look for the Telephone Trail to branch right (there's a sign) just past the remnants of another old building. The trail winds its way southeast along the hillside, eventually leaving the cover of the trees, back into the chaparral. After passing through another gate, the path soon begins descending steeply, straight down the hillside on a wide, eroded path beside a fence. Keep an eye out for the trail to branch right (do not follow the path beside the fence). Turn right and continue descending at a more reasonable grade. Stay straight at the signed junction with the left branching Icehouse Canyon Trail, walk a short distance to where the trail crosses a road. Pick up the path on the other side and you'll soon reach the CCC Rec Site and your car (12 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars):
Nothing exceptional, but this is a nice enough forested hike. The author completed this hike solo at a moderately brisk pace in 5 hours.
Maps: Tonto National Forest Map
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

Looking up at the peak from
the chaparral covered slope.
Entering the pine forest.
Sixshooter Mine. Manzanita corridor along
the Telephone Trail.