The Six Shooter Canyon Trail is challenging, beautiful, and has some fascinating history! Some historical accounts attribute the name "Six-Shooter Canyon" to the fact that the workers at the sawmill (which you will encounter at about 4.5 miles) all seemed to be packing Six-Shooters. This was an active mine in the 1880s, along with a sawmill and cabin in this area. The mine eventually flooded with water. The forests were thinned out considerably by over-harvesting... leaving skeletal remains of the mill and cabin and mineshaft... today; they add interest to our hikes!
The trail in the Pinal Mountains near Globe works its way through different biomes as it rises some 3000 feet in 6 miles. This is a "sky island" as the mountain rises abruptly from the desert floor.
The 1st mile of the trail is along a fairly exposed route primarily through manzanita shrubs until it descends into the Six Shooter Creek drainage. Starting at about 0.4 miles, a series of switchbacks take you down to the creek that you cross many times on the trail. Here you are, hiking in a riparian community with Arizona Sycamore, Fremont Cottonwood, and Hackberry lining the creek sides. Taking the right fork at about 0.8 miles, you quickly climb out of the creek bed, heading back into the chaparral as the trail makes its way up the mountain. You are treated to some panoramic vistas of the Miami/Globe are along this part of the trail.
By mile 2, you have tree cover from the canopies of Gambel Oaks. As you continue to hike, you encounter an interesting variation depending on the side of the canyon you are hiking on - high desert vegetation of juniper, agaves, pinyon, and prickly pear among the rocky canyon walls to Gambel Oaks and mixed pine cover. You begin to see Quaking Aspen and Arizona Walnuts in moist-microclimate areas near the creek. The trail widens as it heads away from the canyon and enters a pine-oak forest at about 4 miles. At mile 4.5, the trail joins an old road and is now in a forest with hardwoods, mixed conifers, Bigtooth Maple, and velvet Ash. The trail sharply descends and levels off until it reaches the abandoned mineshaft (left side) and ruins of the cabin. Just after this, the trail forks, the right fork is Telephone Trail #192 that continues over to Icehouse Canyon Trail #198. Take the left fork and continue to climb through mixed conifers and aspen for about 0.5 miles to another fork, where you will turn right to the end of the trail at Ferndell Spring. The trail ends about a quarter-mile past Ferndell Spring at its junction with the Middle Trail that heads to the top of Pinal Mountain. Head back out the way you came up -- Its all downhill, and watch your step. Hiking poles do help on this trail.