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McFadden Horse Mountain High Point, AZ

Guide 2 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4 of 5 
no permit
1 Active
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,675 feet
Elevation Gain 1,835 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,880 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.9
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2021-04-24
Horsing Around in the Sierra Ancha
19  2020-04-06
Horsing Around in the Sierra Ancha
Author DixieFlyer
author avatar Guides 58
Routes 507
Photos 7,086
Trips 463 map ( 5,750 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Fountain Hills, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:14am - 7:38pm
Official Route
2 Alternative

Horsing Around in the Sierra Ancha
by DixieFlyer

At an elevation of 7,510', McFadden Horse Mountain (not to be confused with nearby McFadden Peak) is one of 6 summits in the Sierra Ancha that are over 7,500'.

From the guide for the McFadden Horse Trail #146:
"McFadden Horse Mountain derives its name from William McFadden, who had been a part of a vigilante group during the Pleasant Valley War. McFadden later settled in the Sierra Ancha, founding the Circle Ranch on McFadden Creek, at the western foot of the mountain that bears his name."

The Pleasant Valley War was a bloody feud between the Tewksbury and Graham families of ranchers in the late 1800s, and is famous in Arizona lore. It was a classic feud between cattlemen and sheepherders. According to wikipedia, it is estimated that 35-50 people were killed in the Pleasant Valley War, which is believed to be the highest number of fatalities of such range conflicts in U.S. history.

The hike begins by taking McFadden Horse Trail #146 south from the trailhead. You'll start going uphill almost immediately, and the trail is a bit steep and is rocky in places. After about 1 mile and 600' in elevation gain, you'll come to a junction with the Cienega Trail #145. At the junction, if you were to continue straight you'd be on the Cienega Trail; instead, turn left (there is a trail sign there indicating that the McFadden Horse Trail goes left).

From the junction, the trail steepens and you'll gain about 1,000' in elevation in about a mile. The trail is not maintained regularly, but it is mostly relatively easy to follow, and there are quite a few cairns along the way. You'll be passing through a burn area, and there are several downed trees across the trail. The deadfall isn't too severe, but it can be an annoyance to get around, over, or under it.

Once you get to about 7,300' in elevation, the trail flattens out and you'll be above the burn area. This is a nice part of the hike -- you'll be hiking among tall pine trees that aren't too dense, and there are lots of huge cairns that guide the way.

The mountain is relatively flat at the top, and there is no summit that is easily recognizable. The high point is just west of the trail -- I turned off of the trail next to a large cairn at these coordinates: 33.88055, -110.94254. This is about the easiest off-trail hiking that you will ever do. I walked a short distance to an area that clearly looked to the highest point on the mountain. However, there is no summit cairn or benchmark that I could find. After walking around a bit and measuring the elevation at various places with my Garmin GPS, I marked the high point at these coordinates: 33,88018, -110.94367. It could easily be argued that this is not the exact high point, but I could not see another point that looked to be higher. In any event, if you walked around a bit in this vicinity, I think that you can legitimately claim to have bagged the McFadden Horse Mountain High Point!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2020-04-07 DixieFlyer
    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To McFadden Trailhead
    Getting to the McFadden Trailhead is easy if you can remember this phrase: "288 on 288". In other words, the trailhead is at mile marker 288 on Highway 288. From Highway 188, you'll turn on Highway 288 and go 30-35 miles. The trailhead is on the right side of the road, just across from a green mile marker sign that says "288". The parking area has room for 4-5 cars.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 2 h 30 min (127 miles)
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 3 h 12 min (150 miles)
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 3 h 39 min (184 miles)
    page created by DixieFlyer on Apr 07 2020 6:36 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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