I wanted to do some kind of decent hike this weekend so I can stay in shape for hiking. I don't have any big hikes planned but as we all know, it's good to keep in hiking shape
. Well this hike fit that bill for me. After fixing a FB spam attack, I decided to start after I ate a good lunch rather than having lunch on the trail.
I started at 1:15. The TH parking lot was pretty crowded. I decided to attack the mtn from the backside and go clockwise via the Jewel of the Crown, DragonFly, Spur Cross, Elephant Mtn to Spur Cross TH. It was a great day weather-wise. I decided I would take a few movies here and there. Well I ended up taking nearly 20 minutes worth of movies
as I made my way along different parts of the trail.
It always a pleasant walk along the Jewel of the Creek as you go thru a couple different environs (creek & cottonwoods with saguaros & other desert foliage). And then it's west in the wash to the place where you head up the hill to the north on the DragonFly. It takes a bit to get to the flat part up from the creek bottom and then you can make good time for most of the way to the intersection with both the Spur Cross/Tortuga and then left (west) to the intersection with the Elephant Trail. I am still amazed at the amount of tall and healthy saguaros from the Spur/Tortuga/Dragonfly Intersection to the Elephant Mtn intersection as well as this south side of the mountain.
It is a gradual ascent of about 300 feet and just under 2 miles from the intersection of Spur Cross/Tortuga to the Elephant Trail (total mileage from Spur Cross parking to Elephant Mtn intersection is a little over 3 1/2 miles or so). I'm glad for the ascent as it makes that last climb up to the Elephant Mtn saddle not so far or steep. When you get to the intersection, it is difficult to determine where the trail is
but just pay attention to where the arrow on the sign is pointing
. The trail is a bit primitive here as you head back NE but you'll soon see you're going on the right trail. One other time I had to stop and look where to go but saw a cairn and off I went (see the video - Pt II).
Once you get to the top of this hill, you will go up and down a few times as you manage your way through a couple drainages and before you know it, you've reached your destination (about 4 1/3 miles from the TH parking lot). I met a couple here from the East Coast. They are trying to expand their hiking terrain so I pointed out some landmarks and suggested Tom's Thumb to them as you could see it from where we were standing.
After a quick break, I continued down the North side of the mountain. I met up with the couple again and pointed out the Spur Cross Loop area. I told them it was a bit primitive & slightly overgrown in just a few places but to follow the cairns. I said that the next time I was going I would be taking my clippers. They found the "clippers" part amusing
. Anyway, they insisted I pass them
(I think having my poles helped as it can be quite slippery coming down) but kept an eye on them just to make sure they were still coming as it can get a bit tricky as you make your way east down the wash to the exit point up the hill to the NE.
They've added a few steps at the initial exit into the wash. I thot that was quite nice. From here you can basically come in and out of the wash until the exit point. It is cairned here and there but I almost think it's just as easy and less confusing just to stay in the wash. Plus I think it's more scenic
. And then it's that last big hill on this hike. The Boy Scouts did a great job putting in the steps a few years ago and they are paced just about right as that first section is pretty steep. It's nice how right after that the trail levels for a few moments before going back up and out.
I tried to pick up my pace as I wanted to try and do this hike in four hours or so. Imagine that, me picking up the pace
. It's still a pretty hike as you make your way to Cave Creek. I was curious to see where the creek was, how much water and where I would cross. They have moved the crossing back to the normal area. It's very ingenious how they put these boards together to let you cross this little section of the creek. There was a nice reflection in the water too.
On this last little bit I heard the coyotes howling up a storm. It didn't last long. I was back to the parking area at 4:40. So even with all my photos and movies, I did indeed make pretty decent time for me. The other couple was only a few minutes behind me. I showed them my hikearizona.com decal and suggested they use the site to find hikes they might like to do. The husband seemed very interested in Tom's Thumb.
I saw a mtn biker on the Spur Cross part of the trail as I was making my way toward the Elephant Mtn intersection. I am wondering if he took the route from the Cave Creek Recreational area over to here?
This part is along the Dragonfly Trail to the Tortuga to Spur Cross Trail. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShJFrfQ1tOg
Part II is finishing it off from Spur Cross to Elephant Mtn, Elephant Mtn ruins, thru the wash and across Cave Creek.