Had to be up in Cave Creek today to bid a side job so I thought I would hit a few areas up north. Was going to swoop in to the Conservation area and do a quick hike or two. I have decided that after today, there is not a Trail out there that I can do for the first time, "quick", unless I forget the camera...
And of course, I did way more than I intended.
But they were very cool hikes, so I'm glad I did them. After doing a fairly quick hike on Metate and Towhee, I decided to check out the Tortuga Trail. Hadn't really been on this "side" of the area yet and the views of Elephant Mountain and a couple of others were awesome. And this really ended up being an awesome, albeit easy, loop.
Took Spur Cross to Tortuga Trail. At the Junction, 3 very nice older ladies had just come down the hill from Spur Cross to the south and proclaimed themselves "lost". They were trying to get back to the parking lot. After explaining it to them and showing them on the map, we chatted for a few minutes. 2 of the ladies were visiting from Manhattan and the other was local, but had never been here before.
I started up the Tortuga Trail and although there is a little elevation gain, it's not much and went fast, at least for me....
Have quickly learned that anywhere there is an "area closed" sign on these trails, it means that there is usually something interesting "back there". Sure enough, I finished the first elevation hike and saw a sign. As I went up to read it, my eyes got blurry and the Trail disappeared. (I seem to be having alot of trouble with this problem.
) So before I knew what happened, my eyes refocused and I was on a little hill surrounded by ruins and mounds. (I hate it when that happens!
) Pretty cool little area.
I managed to find my way back to the Trail and when I descended further on, it happened again!
This time I was in a wash with a cool looking cliff face. I found my way out of the wash, back on the Trail and continued. Followed the Tortuga past the Elephant Mountain Trail Junction and met up with the Dragonfly Trail. On a whim, decided to check out the Dragonfly Trail instead of doubling back on Spur Cross. Great decision....
Shortly after the Junction, the Dragonfly Trail starts to descend and I was walking through a black rocky area. Saw one rock on the Trail with a cool Petroglyph and then for just a second, the blur came back and I found myself in front of another cool rock. The Trail kept descending and I ended up in a very scenic wash with some seriously neat looking rocks and formations. And the Cottonwoods showed up as well. Awesome area. Followed the Dragonfly for a little ways longer and hit a Junction with Jewel of the Creek Trail. This one looked like it was heading back in the direction I wanted to go and also it followed Cave Creek, judging from the sound, so I took it. Another Great Decision.
This Trail meanders along the Creek and then all of the sudden there was a Cave! Ok, not a real cave, looks like a mine, but it was neat. Didn't go in as I didn't have a light with me and I didn't want to surprise any snakes. Looks like it went back pretty far. Will have to check that out next time. Continued following the Trail and the Creek really takes on a very riparian setting, so finally left the Trail for a little bit and boulder hopped up the Creek. Found a great rock right in the middle and took a break. As I was breaking, I was looking at 2 Cottonwoods in front of me and saw something big in one of the trees. I got my binocs out and sure enough it was a huge nest. Couldn't see anything moving in it, my angle wasn't very good, and it was pretty high. When I got nearer to it, I glassed it again, but the tree and the one next to it are pretty thick now with new growth. I did finally get a glimpse of a fairly large bird fluffing and moving slightly. From the color and shape of the body, I would guess maybe an Owl, versus a Hawk, but I just couldn't ever see the head. I tried various angles to try to get a better look, but to no avail. I think it was an Owl Nest. Further down the Trail I got to see 2 crows building another large nest in another tree. I explored down the Trail a little more before climbing the hill up to the road. Came up right at the "Entrance" of the Jewel of the Creek Conservation Area. Followed the road back to the car.
Saw lots of birds on this hike, but just wasn't quick enough or have a good enough camera to get any good pictures. I did stalk a Cardinal and managed to get a shot off, but it's not great. Too bad, he was really really red....Tis the season. Saw a Hawk, several Cactus Wrens, a couple of Crows and a few others as well. Really liked this Hike when I was looking for a scenic, and not a grueling hike. Will do this one again, maybe with a few variations. Beautiful day with several lighting changes due to the weather.