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McFadden Peak, AZ

no permit
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Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
3.3 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,349 feet
Elevation Gain 786 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.83
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2016-08-24
12  2015-09-19
McFadden Super Loop
19  2015-09-19
McFadden Super Loop
19  2015-05-02
FR2752 McFadden Peak Loop
4  2014-09-06 ssk44
1  2014-07-12 ssk44
23  2014-03-15 BEEBEE
12  2012-10-07 CannondaleKid
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Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:28pm
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
adrift in a sea of pine
by PrestonSands

McFadden Peak, the site of one of two fire lookouts in the Sierra Ancha, offers continuous views of the surrounding areas. This peak was named for William McFadden, who started the Circle Ranch on McFadden Creek. McFadden had been part of a vigilante group during the Pleasant Valley War, and later settled in the Sierra Anchas to get away from the feud. There are two routes to the top of this 7135 foot peak: the short way (forest road 561), and the long way (McFadden Park Trail). I haven't hiked the McFadden Park Trail yet, so I'll describe the short way up.

Park your vehicle at the locked gate at the beginning of forest road 561, next to highway 288. Be careful not to block the gate, in case the forest service needs to use the road. As you hike up the 561 road, bird's eye views of the forested Sierra Ancha begin immediately. The road makes a continuous and even ascent along the southern slope of McFadden Peak, through the mountain's pale, Troy Quartzite rock. The vegetation on this stretch includes pinyon pine, alligator juniper, and mountain mahogany, all of which are low enough to allow for wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. In the valley far below is the long, grassy meadow of the Circle Ranch. At about 1.1 miles, the road rounds the western side of McFadden Peak, where it meets the McFadden Park Trail coming in from the west. A wooden sign marks the junction. Now on the north side of the mountain, the road is shaded by gambel oaks and ponderosa pines, and soon reaches the top of the peak. A short fire tower, listed as a historic fire lookout, sits at the summit. There are spectacular views in all directions here. Superstition Mountain, the Mogollon Rim, the White Mountains, and everything in between can be seen. Return the way you came, or, if someone has left a shuttle vehicle at the Circle Trailhead, you can take the McFadden Park Trail back.

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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-06-07 PrestonSands
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    McFadden Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    McFadden Super Loop
    Redo of Bruce's masterpiece plus Cienega #145.

    McFadden Horse Trail
    Most will rate this lower due to the steep approach. The forest up top, eastern and Elephant Butte views win me over.

    Elephant Rock Arch
    Bridged the gap connecting McFadden to Elephant Rock. Shorts are fine, took under a half hour. We stopped above the arch then headed down. 1 class four downclimb. Ironically I climbed up it last time out of curiosity. I couldn't figure out the downclimb last time so I jumped 10? feet. Got the twist move on the first try this time then did it again for fun. Fairly certain you could backtrack a bit to avoid the obstacle.

    McFadden Peak
    Just a road walk up. Impressive views of the thick mogul berber carpet of pines.

    Park McFadden Trail #55
    Majority of this is an old road down to Circle Ranch. Without using Hank's track I would have missed where it leaves the road for awhile. The cairns at each end are faint and the trail is faint for that segment. Found a tank and added to the map. From Circle Ranch down it's a nice trail. The upper isn't bad but most would prefer the lower part.

    Cienega Spring Trail #145
    Just a road. A little closer and personal views such as from McFadden Peak.
    McFadden Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The road up onto McFadden Peak is open for the time being this season...

    I was on a road trip with my dad on Saturday working our way down from the Rim heading towards Roosevelt. The open gate easily caught our attention. We've both been wanting to go up there for some time now. We weren't about to let that opportunity pass us up.

    A married couple is working the fire tower this season and allowing visitors during day. There camping in a travel trailer just below the summit. Nice couple. This is there first time working a fire tower. The guy was real friendly. He shared some very colorful war stories from this years monsoon season up there. Crazy stuff. Working a fire tower is not for the faint of heart. There enjoying there experience overall, however I believe the relentless violent storms have been taking its toll on them. We hung out on the summit for about hour watching big storms circle from all directions. It was a great summit experience. If you've been wanting to come up here but have been putting it off due to the closed gate, now is the time to go. They'll let you climb the tower unless lightning is in the close vicinity. It was marginal while we were up there. We got lucky. Only took one photo. The light was really clean on McFadden Horse Mountain with a sweet dark background monsoon against the far distant Sombrero Peak about eleven miles southeast.


    McFadden Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After returning from Glacier NP on 7/9, I was having AZ "re-entry" problems big time. So topohiker-Ken and I decided to do a little decompression in-between two of our favorite areas to hike: The Sierra Ancha and Salome Wilderness.

    This McFadden Park TR#55 has not had any plublicity on HAZ until now. Preston who wrote up the original McFadden Peak hike description via FR561(fm Hwy 288) sparked our interest level to try the longer version of this hike to McFadden Peak at 7135'.

    This quick access Circle Ranch TH and recently maintained 5.6ml(.29ml on FR561) hike to McFadden Peak turned out to be another winner! Just .25ml from the TH start we found a huge "backberry patch" just off the right side of the trail following seasonal McFadden Creek. Don't know when in AZ is considered peak for blackberry season, but this is the place to come IF you know when and enjoy blackberries!

    This easy to follow and somewhat rocky but cairned trail roams it way up through pinyon pine, alligator juniper, gamble oaks, and mountain mahogany. At approx 1.1mls you reach the private property across the fence line for the Circle Ranch homestead. Continuing on past a couple view points and crossing a few seasonal creeks and drainages you reach the first veiwpoint at 4.8mls for the historic 1968 built Fire Tower on the top of McFadden Peak.. your ending destination with a super 360 degree view of all! At 5.3mls you reach the intersection of FR561. It is just another ~.3mls up this well maintained dirt road to the fire tower. Ken and I were fortunate to find it occupied this time of year. While having lunch at the tower we had a nice conversation with Jay, who really does seem to have a less stressful life spending 5 days/nights a week here during our monsoon season. He told us that he had called-in a recent fire caused by a lighting strike just 3 days before or visit.

    As we finished our lunch visit, Sierra Ancha and Salome Wilderness monsoon weather was again quickly approaching. Jay looked up, smiled, and said "you two are going to get wet before you reach your vehicle". Guess that we were kind-of looking forward to some rain as we decided to extend the hike by 2.1mls and +/- 575' by taking FR561 to its end at Hwy 288 then back up to the TR#55 intersection. The sky let loose just about the time we turned onto TR#55. It rained for 2 hrs straight..just delightful! The creeks and drainages were flowing again and all the forest smells were alive! We saw little wildlife on our hike, but I am sure they saw us.

    A nice area and new trail to hike.. We do recommend it!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the highway 60/highway 188 junction in Globe, head north on highway 188 for 14.6 miles to the junction with highway 288. Turn right onto highway 288, and follow it north for 31.1 miles to the turnoff for McFadden Peak, on the left (west) side of the road. There is a brown road sign just before the turnoff that says "McFadden Peak 1". Park at the locked gate, and follow forest road 561 to the top of McFadden Peak.
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