Tiger's Trail of Tears  LbNA # 28462 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateJan 26 2007
LocationMoorpark, CA
Planted ByTwins Mom    
Found By HPW
Last Found Sep 19 2015
Hike Distance?
Last EditedOct 6 2015

Tiger’s Trail of Tears

This box was placed in honor of the memory of a tiger that died in a stupid, preventable tragedy near Miller Park in Moorpark. The owners of this exotic animal let it escape and then refused to cooperate with authorities to help them find it. The poor animal (who had been in captivity for years) didn’t know how to fend for itself (it was used to someone giving it “tiger chow” each day) and it slowly starved. It walked miles and left huge, scary footprints that the game warden’s could not figure out (is it a mountain lion? An escaped animal?) The tiger finally made an appearance along the fences that separate Miller park from the neighborhood above it (scaring the poor home owner to death!) and within minutes the Fish & Game team (along with police) found the animal, tried to capture him and finally had to put it down…as Miller Park is within yards of dozens of houses, less than a Ľ mile from a major freeway (imagine a tiger running across a freeway! The car accidents would be terrible!) and within a ˝ mile of a middle school – where hundreds of children would be walking around within an hour or so. It’s a stupid tragedy – and the owners just recently plead guilty. Poor tiger.

To visit this letter box, go to Miller Park – located in Moorpark off the 23 freeway. Take Tierra Rejada exit, go west, turn right on Miller Park way and the park is just past the crest of the hill (just past the middle school I mentioned above).

To find the box, here is a list of clues and suggested pauses to stop and reflect on the Tiger’s Trail of Tears:

a. Park the car and go across the big, green soccer fields to the very end. Look for a sign that says “Serenata Trail”. Pause and note the dirt path … in the cold, rainy winter of 2005 many paw prints from a large cat were found in this mud. I took my kids here, saw those prints one afternoon, and immediately took them home. I thought there was a huge mountain lion roaming around and feared for my 4 year old twins lives!
b. Go on the path to the right. About half way between the Serenata Trail sign and the up-hill path stop. Pause and look towards the freeway. Look for the white, concrete tunnel entrance that goes under the freeway. It’s a “wildlife crossing” – put there to help deer, coyote, mountain lions, etc. safely cross from the wilderness across the freeway to this side. It is speculated that the tiger lived in that tunnel for a few weeks.
c. Keep going up the steep path to the right. Its VERY steep but not too long. Once you are about half way up, pause. Look to the left (east) and note the canyon (or “arroyo”). This was the tiger’s final stand. He died in the canyon, when the game wardens made a decision to shoot him. I can only imagine it was a hard choice (shooting an animal can’t be easy for people who protect them) AND look around…when do you shoot in such an urban area? There are cars zooming by on the 23, houses nearby, there were news helicopters above, hundreds of curious onlookers starting to roam into the park…it was a tragic zoo that day.
d. At the top of the path there is a large peppertree. Sometimes called a “Portugeause weeping willow”. Appropriate here.
e. Past the peppertree, look to the right. See all those houses? It was one of those homeowners who opened their back sliding glass door to let “fido” out for his morning “duty” – and saw a 250+ lb tiger pacing along the wrought iron fence. Can you imagine the terror?! Game wardens swarmed through his house within minutes of his 911 call.
f. Enjoy more of this trail and when you come to the wood steps, count down the first 11 stairs. Look to the right, under the peppertree. See the line of rocks? – look under the cache that is in line with the 11th step to find your letterbox. The “cache” stands out a bit because it is a buldge in the line of rocks.
g. You can go along the rest of the trail (you are almost to the end). It comes out in the Serenata neighborhood; however, there is a gate and often it is locked. If you do come out into the neighborhood, you can walk to the entrance (on Olive or Peach Hill) and then go downhill on Miller Parkway, back to the park. Otherwise (if the gate is locked) – just turn around and go back along the Tiger’s Trail of Tears.

I hope you enjoyed this story and trail. If you would like to read more about the Moorpark Tiger, Google those two words and there are several newspaper stories written about this sad event.

P.S. - I am pleased to say that this has been a very popular letterbox! Also - I know that a couple of "tiger" cub scout troops have used this as a den hike! That's great.