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Tortuga Trail - Spur Cross, AZ

Guide 125 Triplogs  0 Topics
  2.7 of 5 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,450 feet
Elevation Gain 154 feet
Accumulated Gain 154 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.71
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2021-04-16
Black Mesa Creek Petroglyphs
30  2021-02-09
Peterson Spring from Spur Cross
10  2021-01-11
Spur Cross Meander
29  2021-01-01
Sugarloaf Mountain - Spur Cross
23  2021-01-01
Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur Cross
7  2020-12-30
Spur Cross Trail
24  2020-11-22
Elephant Saddle Loop
10  2020-11-21
Jewel of Spur Cross
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 241
Routes 829
Photos 12,070
Trips 4,849 map ( 24,809 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:18am - 7:42pm
Official Route
31 Alternative

Afternoon Delight
by joebartels

Used to access Elephant Mountain Trail or as a loop with Spur Cross Trail.

From the northeast junction with Spur Cross Trail, you immediately head up a gentle slope. Soon you top out on a small deck with nice views north of Sugarloaf Mountain. On this trip, Sugarloaf was covered in yellow brittlebush blooms.

As noted in the elevation profile the trail soon heads right back down to a usually dry ravine. Here I encountered a Parks & Recreation truck. Signs remind you that going off-trail is not allowed. Perhaps they were enforcing park law. Maybe somebody tried to shortcut the 250 feet down to the Spur Cross Trail... who knows!

Across the ravine, you head up a huffer slope. Even at its worst, it's only a 150-foot climb. Perhaps no worse than the first switchback of Piestewa. All the lower trails up to this point could practically be negotiated in flip flops. Here the footing gets loose. The good news is the old jeep road is beyond Parks & Recreation cruiser negotiable. Especially because there are a couple of boulders lined at the top as a mammoth waterbar.

Soon you'll find yourself at a junction with Elephant Mountain Trail. Take a left and head south onto the ridge-of-views. On this trip, the ground was literally covered in green flora and wildflowers. The views are top-notch all around. Looking ahead/SSE, Black Mountain dominates the horizon. Even in this above-average rainfall year, the ground sports deep drought cracks.

A half-mile down this subtle sloping ridge, you come to the southwest junction with Spur Cross Trail. New River Mesa shaded a majority of my late afternoon hike. Talk about a bonus!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-03-21 joebartels
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
Spur Cross Conservation Area $3 per person

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Spur Cross Trailhead
I-17 North & Exit 233, which is SR-74 the Carefree Highway. Head east on Carefree Highway 9.9 miles to Cave Creek Road. Head North on Cave Creek Road 2.6 miles to Spur Cross Ranch Road. The road jogs a bit here but you go 4.0 miles to the parking lot.

It is a well-graded dirt road. As it nears the parking area, the road leads past a large green house, through a tall gatepost and past a corral. There is a large signed parking area. Along the road about 75 yards northeast of the parking area, there is a self-pay station and a small informational kiosk with rudimentary maps. Pay the fee and carry the stub with you.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 35.8 mi - about 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 144 mi - about 2 hours 26 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 133 mi - about 2 hours 10 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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