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Icehouse / Kellner Trail Loop Hike - Tonto National Forest

Summary: A steep loop hike (~3000 feet elevation gain) in the Pinal Mountain Recreation Area south of Globe using the Icehouse and Kellner Trails.
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, and seems to have been cleaned up somewhat since I was here in Oct 2003.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Moderate - a few use roads and trails to choose from
Length: ~10 miles
Date Hiked: December 2004
Weather Conditions: Sunny, windy and cool
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the CCC Camp picnic area (0 miles, 4500 ft), walk west across the road you drove in on (FR 112B) and look for the sign that indicates the beginning of Trail #192 (Telephone Trail). The path winds its way through desert chaparral consisting of scrub oak, manzanita, sugar sumac and agaves soon crosses FR 112. After 5 minutes of walking you'll reach a signed junction, the Telephone Trail continues straight and the Icehouse Canyon Trail #198 branches right. Turn right and walk a short distance to an old road, unfortunately the road is the lower portion of the Icehouse Trail. Before turning left and hiking up the road, be sure to turn around and identify the spot where the trail enters, you'll need to find it on your return. Walk up the road a short distance to a Dead End sign. You can continue right up the road, but if you'd like to skip a short section of it, look for a path on the left. The path winds through the chaparral, joining the road a short distance later. Continuing up the moderately steep road (which is less than scenic, and features a thick black hose running next to it) for a mile to several steel water tanks, you'll reach a signed junction with the right branching Kellner Trail #242 (3 miles to FR #651). To do this loop counter clockwise (the way I will describe), turn right onto the Kellner Trail which traverses the hillside to the west with views south of the Pinal foothills, Globe, Miami and the copper mine. The path eventually bends left (north) and begins climbing moderately to steeply. As you climb the chaparral slowly gives way to mixed oak and pine forest, then completely to pine forest. About 15 minutes before reaching the end of the Kellner Trail you'll hit a spot with some old rusty machinery. The path, which is then marked at frequent intervals by cairns, winds to the top of the hill next to a small wash to FR #651 (4 miles, 7150 ft). Turn left and follow the road about a mile or so to the large sign on the left marking the Icehouse Canyon Trail (5 miles, 7500 ft). Look for the trail on the left (resist the temptation to continue straight down the ridge which separates Icehouse Canyon from Sixshooter Canyon), which switchbacks steeply down into Icehouse Canyon. Once in the canyon the path heads down through the forest beside the creek bed, eventually reaching a junction with the right branching Telephone Trail heading uphill at the remains of an old cabin (7 miles, 5900 ft). A few hundred feet later, you'll see the downhill portion of the Telephone Trail on the right as well. In both cases, continue straight on the road that is the Icehouse Canyon Trail. The rocky road descends through the forest a short distance before breaking out onto the sunny slope, reaching the tanks you passed earlier 2 miles later (9 miles). Follow the path you hiked earlier the remaining mile back to the CCC Picnic Area and your vehicle (10 miles, 4500 ft).
Rating (1-5 stars):
Nothing exceptional, but this is a nice enough hike. The trip was complicated somewhat by snow and ice in the upper elevations when I did this hike in December. The hike was completed at a quick pace in 4 hours.
Maps: Tonto National Forest Map (not very good for this hike)
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

View along the Kellner Trail. Snow in the Pinal Mountains.