Saturday, July 13, 2024

Hike-a-Bike / Pixie Loop - 7/11/24

View from a road Crossing

Hike-a-Bike Trail

Pixie Trail

New sign below Robbers Roost TH
A group of five club hikers parked at the Robbers Roost Trailhead for a cool <4 mile loop on the bike trails in the North Loop / Telephone Canyon area. It was early Thursday morning so we did not expect to be in the path of any zooming bikers. We started down the little trail behind the informational sign and reached the perpendicular trail junction with a new sign as seen to the left. Our left turn put us on the Hike-a-Bike Trail. It has been a couple of years since I did this route and the trail has changed in appearance since then. After coming to another new sign, we followed the directions to stay on the Hike-a-Bike Trail. There are a few trails coming down from the left. One of these is the bottom of the Pixie Trail.

Hiking the Hike-a-Bike Trail
Circling around to the right, we hiked below the Deer Creek Road and climbed up to another trail junction. This junction is not signed, however, we know that the trail to the right is the Trough Trail and the trail to the left climbs up to the Camp Loop. Continuing straight along the Hike-a-Bike, we finally came to the signed Showgirl junction. Here, if you turn to the right, you will continue along the Original Showgirl Trail that eventually leads all the way down to the curvy section of Kyle Canyon Road, or the Lower Showgirl Trailhead. We continued our straight trajectory where we were now hiking the Upper Showgirl Trail. We passed two other trail junctions to the left (very vague) which were each end of the Camp Loop. Around to the left, we came to a spur trail leading up to the road (left); a connector trail for our route.

Hummingbird Gulch across Telephone Canyon

Nearing the end of Hike-a-Bike Trail

New sign at Showgirl Junction

Uphill after road Crossing
At the top of the hill, we crossed the Deer Creek Road and climbed up the embankment trail to an abandoned road that continued up to the Gypsy Trail. A right turn on the Gypsy Trail continued our climb up and around to the left paralleling the Deer Creek Road. Somewhere near the high point of the hike, we stopped for a short break. Afterwards, we soon came to the Pixie Trail junction. A left turn put us on that trail and we finally began our short journey down. The Pixie Trail zigzags down the steep terrain with views of the surrounding escarpments. There is one large wash that we crossed two or three times. It was very much gully-ized from last year's "gully washers," but the trail is well maintained through them for the bikers.

Pixie Trail View
At the bottom of the hill, we junctioned again with the Gypsy Trail as the Pixie Trail continued its downward run. A right turn onto the Gypsy Trail put us on the Old Deer Creek Road where we passed the gully mess, the Jumpline Trail and and hiked through the Mountain Laurel "tunnel." One last left turn down to one more road crossing, and we were back at the Robbers Roost Trailhead. Fun cool morning with even a little cloud cover. (The new signs are great! ... but, they aren't at every junction. Be aware!)

Stats: 3.8 miles; 600' gain; 2 hours
Gully crossing on Pixie Trail

Nearing Pixie / Gypsy Junction

Old Deer Creek Road

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Pine Cone Canyon / South Sister Saddle Loop - 7/8/24

Bristlecone tree on ridge trail with Mummy Mountain in Background

McFarland Peak from Bonanza Trail

Sue climbing Pine Cone Canyon

Hiking up the Old Mill Trail
Pine Cone Canyon is a dauntingly steep wash that is sometimes filled with pine cones. The small canyon wash runs from the Bonanza Trail down to the Lower Bristlecone Trail. To make a nice 5.7 mile loop hike using Pine Cone Canyon and the South Sister Saddle, we began at the Pay Phone Trailhead near the traffic circle of Lee Canyon Road. Eight hikers crossed the road and headed up the paved road next to the Old Mill Picnic Area. Just past a set of restrooms, (that are closed to the public), the route veers up a hill to the right as it joins the Old Mill Trail. We passed the turnoff for the South Sister Trail and continued around to the left. After Hilary's rains, there is a deep gulch crossing the trail where we circumvented around it to the right. On up the hill, we came to the Old Mill site where we took a group photo and noticed the engraved aspen trees. The mill was operational back in the 40's or 50's and the aspen trees' engraving show the age.

Old names carved into Aspens

The group at the Old Mill

Turning from Lower Bristlecone Trail into Pine Cone Canyon 

Weather station in Pine Cone Canyon
On up the trail, we junctioned with the Lower Bristlecone Trail (aka Scout Canyon Road). A right turn took us quickly up to the apex of the next curve where the Pine Cone Canyon Trail begins to the right. We passed a large weather station setup and veered right into the canyon wash. The steepness was upon us soon as we followed the trail around a handful more trees that had fallen since the last time we were there. Make no mistake! The canyon becomes steeper and steeper as you climb up the 0.8 mile distance between the weather station and the Bonanza Trail. The group of hikers separated with their different paces. There were a few newbies but they hung close to the oldies and everyone finally reached the top with little energy to spare.

Large downed tree next to Pine Cone Canyon Trail

Another downed tree across Pine Cone Canyon Trail

John makes his way through another downed Tree

Everybody at the top of Pine Cone Canyon
We took a short break to breathe and turned to the right. Following the beautiful and familiar Bonanza Trail for approximately 0.9 mile we next came to the ridge descent trail junction. There is a 3 foot tall tree stump on the left with a rock or two in its crotch. The ridge trail, itself, turns to the right to jump over the Bonanza ridge hump and start downward on small switchbacks. The trail is in good condition most of the way and our regular break spot was wide open seating. After our enjoyable break, we continued along the ridge trail and came to the South Sister Saddle. Again with a right turn, we began our ~1.5 mile descent to the cars. 

Shadowplay on the Bonanza Trail

Heading into the small switchbacks to the first High Point

Nearing the junction on the Bonanza Trail

Break time on the Ridge Trail
The South Sister Trail descent is steep to begin but after you get that part out of the way, it becomes a pleasant hike through the forest ending with the pavement down beside the picnic area. This is a great hike that challenges us every time. Fun group of hikers.

Stats: 5.7 miles; 1620' gain; 4 hours

Hiking out the Ridge Trail

Hiking past the spring on the South Sister Trail

Descending the South Sister Trail

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Wild Horse Loop - 7/6/24

Taking our break at the top of Wild Horse Ridge

A nice short hike with elevation is the Wild Horse Loop. Most hikers begin from Cougar Ridge Trailhead, cross the road and start up Wild Horse Canyon. This is a shady pleasant canyon that passes deadfall and columbines. There is also a beautiful spring. Just past the spring, there is a trail junction. For the Wild Horse Loop, we turned right at this junction onto the Cactus Jack Trail. This trail takes you over to the top of Wild Horse Ridge where we took our break. The return is hiked down the stone ridge where there is a little bit of exposure and beautiful views. At the bottom of the ridge, there is a small bit of easy scrambling. After the scramble, the best way to go is to circle down and around to the left then right. This trail brings you to the Wild Horse Canyon again. A right turn will take you back to the cars. We took our time today with our guest dog, Onyx. The hike was announced as a "dog friendly" hike. Therefore, all hikers were aware that there would be at least one dog hiking with us. Fun, slow morning.

Stats: 2.1 miles; 600' gain; 2.75 hours


Friday, July 5, 2024

South Sister - 7/4/24

Mike on South Sister Peak - Charleston Peak in Background
South Sister from 2.25 miles Away

Group of 10.5 hikers on their way Up

Top of Phase 2 - Beginning Phase 3
On the holiday, Mike took a group of ten hikers out to climb South Sister Peak. Seven of the ten were first timers. (That's always exciting!) Included in the ten was my dog and I. I only intended to go half way and Mike agreed to it. We all parked at the Pay Phone Trailhead and started up the paved road that the Old Mill Picnic Area uses. We turned up to the right at the Old Mill Trail turnoff. And, turned up to the right again at the South Sister Trail. The group was strong and took on the three steep sections before the saddle with ease. I didn't get a report that anything veered from the usual climb so I am assuming that from the saddle, a right turn was made to climb up the ridge to reach the next saddle.

Having fun on Phase 4

Leslie makes it to the Chute

The Chute Queue

South Sister Peak
Another right turn is made to follow the ridge as it circles around to the base of the scree climb. This last climb is steep and arrives at the top between the two peaks. The highest peak is found to the left. First, you have to climb a scramble chute and sidle around to a little exposed climb to the top. Next, you walk atop the limestone ridge to the end where the log book resides. It is a small test of nerves but the view all around is grandly significant. After a short break, the hikers descended the chute and made the short hike over to the other end of the peak area. This side is the East Peak. A look-see here shows more of Mummy Mountain and Lee Canyon. Finally, the descent begins.

Proud Peakers

This is one way down!

Climbing over to the East Peak

Ralyn and Mike take the hard Way
The descent of the Phase 4 section is slow and sometimes tedious ... other times, it is fast and painful! A lot depends on your knees and courage. From there, it is a simple return down the same way you came up. Fabulous day!

Stats: (from Mike) 5.7 miles; 2250' gain; 4.75 hours

Hanging out on the East Peak

Heading Down

Returning on Phase 3