I've been looking for a way to loop the Bushnell Tanks, Park trail and FR422. I drew up a route on HAZ and away we went.
Fan & I started about 7:30 and the weather was very cool. We came across two hunters who had spotted a bear in the area.
Soon we were hiking down the backside of MT.Ord on FR524. We hopped off of FR524 to an old ATV trail that took us close enough to the Camp Reno. We bushwhacked around a bit before hitting the Camp Reno road. Fan took a break as I explored around Camp Reno.
Park Trail #66 We topped off our water at the Park creek. We knew it was going to be warm climbing up in the sun.
The Park trail is no "walk in the park". The trail goes from 2,700 feet to 5,000+. There is little shade. The lower part is easy to follow. But once you get to 4,000 foot range, it changes. The tall grass hides the trail and cairns. We keep on missing the trail and bushwhacked back to it. We started to dread the HAZ split stats because we slowed down to a mile an hour!
The trail is there, it's just the tall grass increases the route finding. After a couple of hours we made it to the Edwards park. Now that is a one great park!
We headed down the AZT to a point where we bushwhacked to a series of abandoned Jeep roads that lead us back to the Jeep.
We were amazed at the amount of flowing water everywhere. The song that keep playing in my head was the "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". The verse was “Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink" Except it was good potable water. The 1st mile of FR22 was wet and overgrown with plants. This area got hit with a lot of rain. It looks like the road moved again.
"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
Currently, you have to park near the highway before the closed gate - no access to Ram Valley while the area recovers from overuse.
Went to the pass and followed the track along the ridge to some large boulder outcrops. On the way back shortly after you start to descend there is a faint trail going off to the south towards Weiss Spring. Followed this trail which gets pretty sketchy but eventually you can get down to Bushnell tanks and the road you started on which makes part of the hike a loop.
I first made this trip in 1967, when I first moved to Arizonaand joined the Boy Scouts in Chandler. We would be dropped off at Sunflower on a friday night, hike to Ram Valley and set up camp for the night. The next day we would hike to the site of Camp Reno and spend another night. Sunday we would hike to Punkin Center. I have made this hike numerous times down through the years and I also camp near the site of Camp Reno. As for 4x4 driving, I have not driven this road this year, but on two previous trips a vehicle was stuck or broke down (one was a forest service vehicle) and I had to return. Since the Sunflower (Ram Valley) side gets quite a few visitors, I would not like to leave a vehicle on this side. Coming from the Punkin Center side Forest Road 491 becomes Forest Road 524 (new color edition of the Tonto National Forest Map), but Camp Reno (the site that is) is located at the end of Forest Road 409. Camp Reno was an out post in the late 1860's for more information on Camp Reno, see Camp Reno, An Outpost in Apacheria, 1867-1869 by Jim Schreier.
This route is a very rough road that crosses the crest just north of Mt. Ord, near Sunflower. To the pass, starting near Sunflower is about 6-7 miles, but one can drive in to a junction, where one can park and from here the distance is about 5 miles. It is a scenic area and once you reach the pass, the road descends to the site of old Fort Reno or you can go right and take a long trek to the Four Peaks road.
average hiking speed 2.37 mph
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.