|Hiking||5.50 Miles|| 4 Hrs || ||1.38 mph|
|600 ft AEG|| || || |
I as well was surprised to encounter this conservation area. The end result is that you have to park outside the conservation area gate and hike .3 mile or so to the Spur Cross trailhead, then another 1.8 on the Spur Cross Main Trail to the Skull Mesa trailhead. That 1.8 miles is basically what used to be the open FR48, but is now part of the conservation area. In any case, more power to those who want to conserve more of this beautiful area.
Our goal was to follow the Cave Creek trail (#4) for a ways and expolore around. Hiking this route requires keeping a keen eye out for the trail. It crosses the water a total of 4 times between the Spur Cross trailhead and the Skull Mesa trailhead. The problem is that you usually can't cross where the trail crosses without getting your feet wet. So you end up crossing just before, or just after the trail crossing. Then you have to work your way back onto the trail.
About a mile in from the Skull Mesa trailhead, the Cave Creek trail (still marked as FR48) passes by a old mining operation (Maricopa Mine). We decided to explore this area furthur. Suprisingly there was very little left behind by the operation. One thing we did find was a small stone building labeled with an explosives sign. This made for a few funny pictures.
After some R&R by the creek, we headed back. On a Saturday, I was surprised to have only encountered 3 other groups. 1 hikers and 2 on horesback.
This is a great hike for families, and especailly for dogs.