Now we're near the 7-oclock position on the loop and heading in a
northwesterly direction in the foothills of the McDowell
Mountains. This segment ends in the upper left corner of the map
(let's call it the 11 o'clock position). Elevations range from
about 2,000 to 3,000 feet in this area of the park, although
the Pemberton Trail never gets as high as 3,000 feet.
The views are magnificent since you're looking down over most of
the 21,000-acre park and beyond to Fountain Hills, the Verde
River valley, and Asher Hills. If the fountain is flowing, you
can see it clearly from much of this section (see photo in
January 17 entry)..
The trail through the western part of McDowell Park
through the foothills and gullies for the next five or six
miles. Parts of it are rocky but most is fairly smooth and very runnable.
We'll pass three trail intersections at Tonto Tank,
Bluff Trail, and Stoneman Wash, go by Geri Kilgariff's
bench at Tonto Tank, and wind through the interesting
rock formations at Rock Knob.
Cody follows Jim up the trail through the
scenic Rock Knob area.
This is about the 9 o'clock position in the
View of rock formations farther up the
trail, looking back to the south
(it's always good to turn around sometimes
to see what you're missing!)
Running or riding the ridge near Rock Knob
Looking back (south) to the Rock Knob area
after dropping down near Bluff Trail intersection
We've gone 6.5 miles so far and are in about the 9
o'clock position on the loop. Let's continue north on the
Another look back south to Rock Knob and
the McDowell Mtn. ridges
Nice, smooth trail here
Limb art. Jim and Cody stand near a dead
Nice couple we saw riding on several different
Oops! I captured Jim and the cool Barrel
Cactus but Cody was too fast for me.
GRANITE TANK TO TRAILHEAD STAGING AREA:
~ 7.6 miles
Granite Tank is near the 10 o'clock position on the Pemberton
Loop. After crossing (unmarked) Stoneman Wash, you know you're there when
you see a livestock pond and begin following fence lines that
mark private ranch property for about a mile. The trail is still
Fence line, a little creek, and a stand of
Prickly Pear Cacti
The NW corner of the park is another good
area to find Teddy Bear Chollas (and sand)
Then the Pemberton Trail takes a sharp right turn and heads east along the
northern boundary of the park to Cedar Tank on
a fairly smooth dirt service road for about four miles.
This section is
fast in the clockwise (CW) direction because you're heading
downhill gradually. This segment isn't a roller-coaster like the last
one along the western part of the park; it's either
predominantly uphill or downhill, depending on the direction
you're going. (The Pemberton 50K went CW both loops when I ran
it four years ago The Javelina Jundred alternates directions
each loop for more
Looking north and east, you'll see ranch property, a few houses,
the Archer Hills, and the valley where the town of Rio Verde
lies. I showed a couple photos of that in the
January 18 entry. To the west are the McDowell Mountains.
This is the only place I saw any Yuccas
along the Pemberton Trail.
These stately desert sentinels are
frequently seen along the trails.
Great running/riding AND views along the
service road (photos above and below)
If you reel them in with your camera, the McDowell Mountains
look closer than they really are from the 12 o'clock position on
the map near Cedar Tank:
I could also see the fountain from the far side of the park one
Fountain at far right of the sawtooth-ridges
near Fountain Hills
Horses graze at Cedar Tank near the 158th
Now we are just 3.2 miles from the end at the Main Trailhead
Staging Area. A little bit past Cedar Tank the Pemberton Trail
veers to the southeast (about the 1 o'clock position on the big
loop) away from the service road and becomes single-track again.
The trail is smooth and fast, still a net downhill in the
CW direction we're going. I've shown photos from this section
several times previously.
The trail crosses McDowell Mountain Park Road the second time
(in the 2 o'clock position) and passes both intersections to
the Scenic Loop Trail before returning to the Trailhead Staging
Area (3 o'clock position).
Jim and Tater are heading the opposite way (CCW)
in this photo
Now they're going CW again -- nice downhill
finish to the staging area!
And we're done with our tour of the Pemberton
This is the ramada at the Trailhead Staging Area.
Hope that vicarious run, hike, or ride didn't wear you out too
Next entry: photos and stories about some of the critters
at McDowell Mountain Regional Park
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2008 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil