The goal of this hike was to find an old (1950) airplane crash site off of Cave Creek Trail #4 on the side of Skull Mesa. Armed with an approximate gps location I started out from the Spur Cross parking lot. Instead of the traditional route to CC #4 I decided to hike up Cave Creek on the old FR 48 jeep trail to the site of the 6L Ranch corral. From there I took the old ranch trail which heads up out of the canyon and connects with Cave Creek Trail #4 near the crash site. This is an easier route to my destination because it has fewer ups and downs than the route going up CC #4. It was an unusually clear day probably due to the recent precipitation - the sky was an unbelievable deep shade of blue. Fortunately the mud had dried up except for a few spots which were easy to bypass. After approximately 5.5 miles I reached the point for leaving the trail to head for the approximate crash location - surprise! - there was visible crash debris approximately 100 ft off the trail. I've walked by this spot at least 3 times in the last couple years and never saw it. So much for my powers of observation. I was lucky, the approximate gps location was about a 100 yards away. I would have had a difficult search for the debris in the thick brush and prickly pear cactus. The plane, a 1949 Piper Clipper PA-16, was fabric covered so only the frame was left after 62 years of decay. The debris visible from the trail included the frame of the tail rudder and many twisted frame pieces. I continued to search for debris along what I guessed was the direction of flight and immediately came upon a Hohokum petroglyph and then a second debris field about 70 feet away. This debris included a twisted door frame with handle. I continued on looking for the engine, the heaviest part which would have traveled the furthest but couldn't find it. Most likely it had been removed by crash investigators or souvenir hunters. But I did find collapsed rock walls and more petroglyphs left behind by the Hohokums.
I had a little extra time since I had found the wreck so quickly. So I decided to explore a nearby hilltop overlooking Cave Creek which looked like a likely location for more Hohokum ruins. Success again! The hill top was surrounded by a crumbled down rock wall and there were other nearby rock walls outlining rooms. There was a view of the canyon bottom below as well as a view of the hilltop fortress located on top of Skull Mesa. I also found more petroglyphs as well as many pottery sherds. This area along CC #4 on a bench on the side of Skull Mesa has many Hohokum ruins - so far I have found five sites in an area about 1.1 x 0.5 miles. If these had all been occuppied at the same time this would have been a very busy place.
It was a successful day - found both an airplane crash site and the sites of two Hohokum ruins and still made it home in time for one of my wife's great home cooked meals.