|Park McFadden Trail Loop, AZ|
|Park McFadden Trail Loop, AZ|| |
Park McFadden Trail Loop, AZ
|Hiking||4.33 Miles|| 3 Hrs 46 Mns ||1.44 mph|
|717 ft AEG|| 45 Mns Break|
|This was my last hike during our week long stay at our camp near Park Tank. GH stayed in camp starting to pack up for an early departure the next day. I started off from camp through the forest of mostly smaller junipers mixed with a few pines towards the 4WD road FR2752, that would be our exit route the next day. I followed that road for about a mile to see if the road had dried out after the heavy rain 3 nights before. Then the plan was to take an old road shown on some maps to head east up the side of McFadden Peak to connect with the Park McFadden Trail #55. I found no sign of that old road so just followed animal trails going that direction. The forest in this area is a scenic mix of pine, oak and junipers with very little brush under the trees to block a hiker's progress. A large black bear ambling along the hillside about 20 yards away made enough noise to catch my attention. When I turned to see what or who was making that noise, I found the bear staring at me. When I raised my camera to get a photo he continued ambling but at a slightly faster pace and so did I in the opposite direction frequently checking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me.|
Upon reaching Trail #55, I followed it down the side of the peak to loop back to Park Tank and from there to our camp. This section of Trail #55 is on an old road which makes for easy hiking. It passes the Park McFadden Tank which, unlike Park Tank, was empty. When Trail #55 gets within 0.3 miles of Park Tank it turns southeast bypassing the tank. At that point I headed off trail in a straight line towards the tank. The forest here is fairly thick but following the trusty cow trails to link small clearings soon delivered me to my destination, the gate at Park Tank. Then it was back up FR2752 to where I had crossed through the forest from camp. GH was still in camp busy packing up for departure the next morning.
The forest in the area around our camp, which I call the Park Tank pasture, is littered with juniper trees that have been sawn down sometime in the past and left laying on the ground. Most of the remaining trees were small enough to have grown in around those dead soldiers over the years. I had seen this area on Google Earth several years ago and assumed it was the site of an old prescribed burn or wildfire. But that was not the case. All the trees laying on the ground had been sawn down and showed no sign of being burned. Investigating the timing of the tree cutting on Google Earth images over the years, it was revealed that the trees had been cut down sometime between June 2007 and June 2010. But this investigation also revealed that his area before the cutting had been covered with smaller trees of a more uniform size compared to the surrounding forest. I suspect that the old original trees in the Park Tank pasture had been cut down at least once before, perhaps mid-1900s, probably by Tonto National Forest, to increase open cattle grazing area. But the juniper trees had started to take over by 2007 and the trees were once again cut down. The last 3 photos in this trip's photoset show historical Google Earth images which confirm the timing of this last cutting.