Spur Cross TH to Seven Springs CG
Overview: This hike must be done as a car shuttle, with one car left at the TH for the Spur Cross Conservation area and the second car at Seven Springs Camp Ground. This description is from south to north. The route follows Trail #4 paralleling the Cave Creek watershed the entire 12 miles. The first 2.4 miles of the hike involves four crossings of Cave Creek and the last five miles involves five crossings. With high water, the crossings are a challenge. (I slipped and fell in the creek!) Hiking poles help.
Route: Leaving the Spur Cross Ranch TH, follow a good jeep road for 2.4 miles alongside Cave Creek. On April 15, 2005 when we did this hike, the stream was flowing freely, and one could see the debris everywhere from the high waters of the winter rains. Note the change in riparian environment here and at the end of the trip at Seven Springs. At 2.4 miles there is a wide crossing of the creek and a 4 X 4 trail sign on the east side of the creek. Here you pick up Trail 4 and begin a steady climb contouring around a small ridge. At 2.71 miles there is a fence and another sign indicating the direction of travel for Trail 4. For the next 3.5 miles the trail climbs moderately in a N/NW direction with Skull Mesa on your right and Cave Creek far below on your left. We were regaled with brittle bush, Desert Marigolds, poppies, Globe Mallow, lupine, and Indian Paintbrush along the way. The devilish fox tail were prolific and stuck in our socks requiring several stops to remove their prickly irritants. We also met a 3 foot Diamondback Rattlesnake slithering around for a for a mid-day snack and a fat Gila Monster in this section of the trail.
At 6.25 miles (elevation 3175 feet) there is a fence, a good place to turn-around or a scenic place to have lunch. Here the trail starts to descend to the creek. At 8.27 miles there is the junction to the Quien Sabe Trail (#251). If you are ambitious you can climb the 1100 feet up the Quien Sabe Trail then down to the campground, but the real treat is to stay straight on Trail Four, because the most sensation part of this hike now comes in the next 3.4 miles. There are five creek crossings here, most of which are easy, but require a little route finding. The riparian environment is very unusual for this part of Arizona. Arizona sycamore makes up the majority of the deciduous tree species, but there are ash, alder, and Arizona walnut growing alongside the creek. Two waterfalls and a number of pools which look deep enough to harbor a fat trout are also found along the way.
The trail climbs away from the creek at 11.5 miles to a road to an administrative site. We parked our second vehicle here. A large parking lot and restroom are located about a mile further on.