2012-01-12 creekercouncil note The description of the route up Black Mountain in Cave Creek suggests a route across private property without the permission of the land owner. Specifically, after the first 1/3 of a mile, the hiker should take the trail marked by the brown Town of Cave Creek signs. Walking up the road to the right (which is not marked by a sign) leads the hiker onto private property. The posted trail exists within the N-S Schoolhouse Road right of way dedicated by the Town of Cave Creek about 7 years ago. Unfortunately, many hikers ignore the clearly marked trail and venture onto private property. That property contains 6-7 building lots that will be developed in the future. A cable blocking the private road has been vandalized.
2010-09-13 FedHiker note: The trail is now clearly marked as you start up hill past the private drive. The jeep road route is a more steady grade and wider for jogging if you prefer. Both trails meet at a point about 1/3 of the way up.
Hike: This trail starts out with two strikes, but then redeems itself with good cardio conditioning and home-run panoramic views at the top.
The first strike is the parking. There are approximately 10 parking spaces on the west side of School House Rd. north of the wash north of Military St. If you don't get one of these spaces, turn back to Cave Creek Road and find a space somewhere. This makes for a longer hike along a dirt street.
The wash elevation is 2,195 feet and is the marked start of my description.
The next strike against this trail is that from Military St. it proceeds south up a dirt road for 1/3 mile. If you are unlucky, you may be breathing some dust. With the development in the area, this road will probably be paved in the near future.
At the 1/3 mile mark and 2,290 feet elevation, you hit a Y in the road. Take the right on the Y. The left of the Y goes to some very nice houses. The road turns into a jeep road. Great views to the North behind you. Great views will continue all the way to the summit. At 1/2 mile the jeep road curves to the right, passes a water tank and crests a saddle. Great views to the southwest. The road turns to the southeast. At 2/3 of a mile, the jeep road ends and the trail begins. Elevation 2,536.
The trail shows sign of maintenance, but it is still primitive. At 3/4 of a mile, a trail joins from the east. This is apparently an alternate trail that avoids some of the jeep trail, but it is not the main trail so I won't elaborate. Stay to the right and keep heading uphill. The switchbacks are very tight so this is basically a straight uphill hike. At the 3/4 mile mark you are at 2,675 feet. At the 1 mile mark you are at 3,000 feet. Keep heading uphill. The trail becomes more rocky. You won't need to use your hands to scramble, but you will have some high steps.
At 1.25 miles you reach the summit and the trail redeems itself with 360 degree panoramic views. Enjoy! The final 3/4 mile to the top and the views redeem the dirt street and the parking.
If you live near Black Mountain, this is a great training hike. If you don't live near Black Mountain, the mountains in the Phoenix Preserves are better.
To hike From Phoenix, take Interstate 17 north to Exit 223. Turn east on the Carefree Highway (Arizona 74) approximately 8.5 miles to Cave Creek Road. Turn north and proceed 3.0 miles to the stop sign at School House Road. Turn right (south). Go about A 1/4 mile and start looking for a parking spot on the right. If you go through the wash and get to Military Street, turn around.
From Phoenix, take SR51 to the 101 then west on the 101 to the Cave Creek Road Exit (Exit 28)(the first exit after the transition). North 9.4 miles to the Carefree Highway. Continue north on Cave Creek Road following the instructions in the previous description.
From Scottsdale, take the 101 and loop around past Desert Ridge Mall to Cave Creek Road. Follow the instructions in the previous description.
HAZ Member bryanmertz writes: It's basically Cave Creek road and School House road (it's a 4-way stop.) There is room for a couple cars on School House at the wash crossing. You just take the road up until it ends and you find a trail.
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.