Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stepladder / Showgirl Loop (Short) - 9/22/18

South Ridge of Charleston Peak from Stepladder Trail

Showgirl Trail

View up Kyle Canyon

Climbing Stepladder Trail
There is a maze of trails located in Kyle Canyon across the road from the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center in and among Telephone Canyon. They began as equestrian trails, however, now most of the trails are well used bike trails and horses are seldom seen. Thirteen hikers hiked a 5.8 mile loop this morning and did not pass a single biker. We must admit this is unusual. At any rate, we started at the Stepladder Trailhead; the trailhead reached by taking a sharp right at the Kyle Canyon traffic circle when heading up. There is a restroom there that is usually pretty clean.

Mississippian Monte Cristo Limestone (gray limestone)
At the far end of the parking lot, the Stepladder Trail starts up via a feeder trail. Soon, the trail divides into the Shady Hollow Trail (right) and the Stepladder Trail (left). We turned left.

Stepladder Trail
This section of the Stepladder Trail is a very good climb for beginning a hike. A large part of the elevation gain is accomplished between the feeder trail and the saddle at the base of Stepladder Peak that rises to the right.

Descending the Shady Hollow Trail

Old Juniper Tree
The large limestone ridge seen across Deer Creek Road is along the Fletcher Peak ridge but that small peak is hidden behind the visible rock. Below this ridge is an old burn area. This fire was started by a dump truck accident. (The breaks went out.) Today, the burn area was covered in brush that is turning yellow by the arrival of autumn. The group consisted of strong moderate hikers and we climbed consistently with a few stops in the shade. By the time we reached the saddle, we were happy to start downhill for a while. At the saddle, a right turn leads to Stepladder Peak. A left turn continues on the Stepladder Loop. The more or less straight direction put us on the Cowboy Washington Trail that we followed until a trail came up that veered to the right.

Tin Can Alley Trail
This trail is the other end of the Shady Hollow Trail. It took us gently down to the bottom of the small canyon via beautifully cut switchbacks.

Starting on Showgirl Trail
This trail joined the Tin Can Alley Trail at the bottom. The Shady Hollow and Tin Can Alley Trails are one in the same for a short stint in this area. But, we made a left turn here that took us off the Shady Hollow Trail and put us on Tin Can Alley alone.

Taking a Break on Showgirl Trail

Stepladder Peak from Showgirl Trail
Soon after passing a few rusted tin cans hanging in the trees, we came to a large junction at Telephone Canyon Road. From previous experience the unsigned trail posts told us that this is where the Showgirl Trail starts across the dirt road. This trail is a major thoroughfare for bikers and we were on alert. Before getting out of the trees, we stopped for a break making do with rocks, logs and steep banks to sit on (or not sit on!). From there, the trail moves into the sunshine and continues down a trailing ridge to a large wash junction emanating from Angel Canyon. We were very disappointed to find that the bridge that someone had built across a short deep part of the wash is gone. Just gone. We had to negotiate the steep down and up with a bit of energy!

Descending a Trailing Ridge
After this, the trail flattens out into an area very near a wide open wash. Still not sure of the use trails to get to where we wanted to go, we did a little bushwhacking to get across the wash and climb a small trail up the hill.

Dropping into the Mouth of Angel Canyon
After today, I have a couple of other ideas on how to smooth out this section. Anyway, we climbed the hill and connected with the bottom section of Tin Can Alley ... as noted by the various and sundry rusted tin cans hanging on branches and scattered about the desert terrain.

The Bridge is Gone!

Back on Tin Can Alley Trail
Where Tin Can Alley crosses Telephone Canyon Road (see photo below), there is a nearby junction of Shady Hollow. We turned to the left here and started our home stretch. A small part of the elevation gain is, unfortunately, located in the last half mile. It's a strong finish back to the feeder trail leading to the parking lot. A good nap might be on tap for the afternoon! Good hike. Good workout. Good people. Good temperatures. Good conversation. Good views. (Oh, and the Smokey the Bear statues are located on the police substation lot!)

6 miles; 1050 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Crossing Telephone Canyon Road at Tin Can Alley

Shady Hollow Trail

Yep. We're done here.

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