Located on the Phoenix Valley’s east side, Usery Mountain Park takes in 3,648 acres set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. One of the the most popular features of the park is the Wind Cave Trail. The Wind Cave is formed at the boundary between the volcanic tuff and granite on Pass Mountain and inside water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support the hanging daisy garden. Thanks to my ban on hiking until February, I don’t have any great photos to share but there are breathtaking views from this 2,840-foot elevation and the hike is a real butt buster!
Usery Mountain Regional Park became a park in 1967. I love this bit of history…The mountain itself was named for King Usery (sometimes spelled Ussery) who was a man with quite a colorful history. “King” was his first name, rather than a title. He was a cattleman who was running stock in the area in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s. He had a tough struggle to survive and, apparently losing ground, moved up into the Tonto Basin country where his activities, unorthodox, provided him a kind of unwanted security….. behind bars.
On January 5, 1892, the Globe-Florence stage was held up by two highwaymen and two bars of silver bullion, valued at $2,000, were stolen. The driver identified the highwaymen as King Usery and Henry Blevins. Posses took the field, soon learning that Usery had been riding a black horse stolen from the Webb Ranch on Tonto Creek. At the George Middleton Ranch, the sheriff and his deputies were told that Usery had been seen burying something in swampy ground near the Salt River. One of the bars was quickly recovered. Surrounded at his ranch, Usery surrendered but a search revealed he had hidden two pistols inside his pants legs, suspending them from his belt with rawhide thongs. For this crime, Usery was sentenced to a term of seven years in the Territorial Prison in Yuma. Despite a successful plea for a new trial, the conviction stood. After two years, he was pardoned. Usery wandered from the legal path a second time and was convicted of stealing cattle. He received a light sentence in Gila County and upon his release, he disappeared.
We love the quiet peaceful, spacious sites, the abundant bird life plus great biking and hiking trails. The easy access to Mesa and Scottsdale (where we have friends with hot tubs) is an added bonus. We are situated on a site that not only has great mountain views but the sunsets are spectacular.
So far we haven’t met any highwaymen while riding on the Blevins Trail but I can occasionally hear the pop, pop, pop of the guns at the nearby shooting range…Arizona folks past and present sure do love their guns!