Skull Mesa from Spur Cross TH, AZPrint Full | Basic
Description 48 Triplogs 0 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 Phoenix NE
Difficulty 3.5    Route Finding
Distance Round Trip 11.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,325 feet
Elevation Gain 2,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 24.3
Descriptions 5
Routes 0
Photos 52
Trips 4 map ( 35 miles )
Age 69
Location Litchfield Park, AZ
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
14  2013-12-26 AZ Wandering Bea
36  2013-11-09 Hansenaz
6  2013-02-16 josetoe5
10  2012-12-30
Cave Creek Trail #4
9  2012-12-15 Booneman
118  2012-01-27
Cottonwood Spring Loop -
Outdoor Lover
13  2011-12-19 Sun Ray
25  2011-12-05 Pioneer1776
2  2011-01-22
Cave Creek #4 to Spur Cro
9  2010-11-27 blskywtwtr
20  2010-11-14
Skull Mesa Ruins
26  2010-03-30
Skull Mesa Ruins
The Eagle
Page 1,  2
Large Profile
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Forest Tonto
Backpack - Yes
Seasons - Autumn to Spring
Official Route
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.0  Black Mesa - Cave Creek
0.0  Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Creek Loop
0.0  Skull Mesa Ruins
0.0  Spur Cross Loop
0.0  Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross
0.0  Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon
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Strenuous and Rewarding
by TerrySwicegood

Mobile Version
Skull Mesa is a prominent feature of the landscape north and east of Cave Creek. Rising 4426 feet above sea level, it appears from the Spur Cross Trail Head much closer than one finds once the hiking begins. The rewards of this long and roller coaster ride, however, are considerable. The solitude of the high Sonoran desert....Cottonwood Spring, a hidden oasis...a few Petroglyphs, and the view from the summit make the day worthwhile.

Hike: You begin your hike at the TH of the Spur Cross Ranch conservation area. The trail goes northward past two restrooms and an administrative trailer then drops into the Cave Creek watershed. There are four creek crossings, the final of which takes you to the east side of the creek. At this point, some 2.2 miles into the trip, there is a large sign of the trail system of the area. At the sign go straight ahead, following Cave Creek trail #4 for 300 yards, then take a right onto trail Cottonwood Trail #247. Follow Cottonwood trail #247 past Cottonwood Springs to the junction of the Skull Mesa summit trail. There is a fence here... the Skull Mesa trail #248 turns sharply left. Pass some Petroglyphs on your left (within several hundred yards of the fence) and climb 1.1 miles (1100 feet elevation gain) to the summit.

At the summit we immediately turned left off the trail and walked about 300 yards to our lunch spot, a rocky outcropping on the edge of Skull Mesa, with magnificent views of Sugar Loaf, Black Mesa, Elephant Mountain, and the distant Valley of the Sun.

We noted that this year (November, 2005) the trail had deteriorated considerably due to heavy rains in the area, and a flash flood had climbed the banks of Cave Creek in October.


    Directions Preferred Months Oct Nov Feb Mar
    Water / Source:Creek w/Spring
    Preferred StartEarly Cell Phone SignalHigh Points Sunrise7:11am Sunset5:20pm
    Road / VehicleFR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit
    Spur Cross Conservation Area $3 per person

    Tonto Pass is a forest wide permit for recreational sites and campgrounds. Typically not for trailheads.

    Print Version
    To Spur Cross Trailhead
    I-17 North & Exit 233, which is SR-74 the Carefree Highway. Head east on Carefree Highway 9.9 miles to Cave Creek Road. Head North on Cave Creek Road 2.6 miles to Spur Cross Ranch Road. The road jogs a bit here but you go 4.0 miles to the parking lot.

    It is a well-graded dirt road. As it nears the parking area, the road leads past a large green house, through a tall gatepost and past a corral. There is a large signed parking area. Along the road about 75 yards northeast of the parking area, there is a self-pay station and a small informational kiosk with rudimentary maps. The fee is $3 per person and carry the stub with you.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 35.8 mi - about 57 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 144 mi - about 2 hours 26 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 133 mi - about 2 hours 10 mins
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    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.
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