Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Telephone Canyon Loop - 5/8/18

Harris Peak from Ridge

Snow disappearing from Griffith Peak

Waning Crescent above Fletcher Ridge

Hiking up the Upper Cowboy Washington Trail
Nope. No snow in the Telephone Canyon area either! In fact, after today, there may be no snow anywhere with the 100 degree temperatures in the valley! Anyway, Tuesday's hike was a warm loop around the Telephone Canyon Road that started at a turnout trailhead on the right of Deer Creek Road that is approximately 2.6 miles up from Kyle Canyon Road. It is right after a very large turnout area that is good for overlooking lower Kyle Canyon up to the Spring Mountain Gateway Visitor Center. The low point of the 7 mile loop that we hiked is near Telephone Canyon Road if you prefer to drive up to that point on the dirt road. But, seven hikers stayed on the pavement and started here meaning that the loop would have a double climb amounting to 1400 feet elevation gain.

A Visit to the Storage Cabin
This turnout has at least three small use trails leading down from it to the Upper Cowboy Washington Bike Trail that runs parallel to Deer Creek Road.

Vista down Telephone Canyon from Pixie Trail
It is also a popular place for people to "picnic" in the trees. We found a lot of trash here. When we returned later, some of our hikers picked up a couple of grocery bags of trash that included a few beer bottles!

Hummingbird Gulch (L) and Robbers Roost (R) from Hike a Bike Trail

Hike a Bike Bridge
So, we found one of those connecting trails and then turned left onto the main bike trail. A gentle climb up began. Soon, we were making a short visit to the storage cabin that was built during the time that Telephone Canyon was being used to string telephone lines for the resort cabins found further around Deer Creek Road. (Thus, the name.) We crossed Telephone Canyon Road near the approach trail to Robbers' Roost Trailhead and continued around on what the bikers have named the Pixie Trail. Maybe the bikers' descent on this trail makes them feel like they are flying. ... Probably are!

Approaching High Point Junction
BTW, probably since school is still in session and it was a Tuesday, we didn't see any bikers on the trail ... nor hikers! Normally, in this area, it is necessary to watch out for the less experienced kamikaze bikers!

Shady Water Break on The Ridge
Nearing the Pixie Trailhead on the road above, we forked to the right onto the Hike a Bike Trail and continued our gentle climb. The Pixie and Hike a Bike both have excellent views looking down Telephone Canyon and across to Deer Creek Road with Hummingbird Gulch and Robbers Roost in the walls above.

Fletcher Ridge from our Ridge

Beginning with Gentle Descent
The high point of the hike is a 4-way trail junction. If you continue straight, you will eventually end up at the Juniper TH on Angel Peak Road. A turn to the left will take you up to an overlook of Deer Creek Road and Mummy Mountain. (It is quite impressive.) We took the right turn onto the top of the Trough Trail. Very soon, another fork appears. The more worn trail to the right continues down to the wildlife water troughs, a steep trail down the wash. Or, a more gentle descent on trails that bypass the troughs. We took the left fork and started our hike along The Ridge. At first, the trail is difficult to decipher but, after the bare ridge saddle where another trail joins in, The Ridge trail becomes very easy to follow.

Angel Peak and Spring Mountains Youth Camp
The Ridge trail is one of my favorite trails in this area. When I and others first started exploring it about 4 years ago, it was a very faint trail. Unused and forested with unique views. A great place to go where there were not bikers or other hikers.

Shady Snack Break at Wash
The first time we tried to hike it down to the Showgirl junction, we either missed the descent trail at the end of the ridge or it wasn't there. See "Missing Link Loop" in 2015! Over the years, the bikers have taken care of that!

A Tad bit of Exposure

La Madre Peak beyond Kyle Canyon
Now, we can confidently use this trail enjoying the views it provides without having to do an out and back hike. We hiked The Ridge following the zigzagging pattern and stopped for our break at the top of the wash 3.5 miles into the hike. Here, the trail can be followed but it is somewhat easier if you just descend the wash and pick up the trail a little further down. From there, the trail goes over Little Bald Knoll and begins a somewhat steeper descent. But, the really steep descent begins a little later when the trail turns decidedly down to the right. You'll know when that happens!

Stepladder Peak in front of Harris Peak
We will affectionately call this steep descent, "The Dive." Again, be aware of stray bikers!

Starting Steep Descent
The Dive continues down to Telephone Canyon Road but it crosses the Showgirl Trail about half way down the hill. At the Showgirl Trail, we turned to the right and began regaining some of that elevation that we just lost.

The Dive

Ascending Showgirl Trail
The trail climbs up and up in the warm sun. Finally, there is some relief with a small descent. We crossed Telephone Canyon Road and turned right onto Tin Can Alley. The gentle climb felt less than gentle at the end of the 7 miles but it did eventually lead us back to the cars. (There is a cairn built near the top of the hill that indicates where a shortcut can be used back to the turnout trailhead.) Everyone agreed that today's hike was an excellent workout ... and that it was warm.

7 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Showgirl Trail

Ascending Tin Can Alley to Trailhead

Cleaning up the Trailhead

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