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Metate Trail - Spur Cross, AZ

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Guide 126 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.4 of 5 by 31
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 0.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,304 feet
Elevation Gain -75 feet
Accumulated Gain 75 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.05
Backpack No
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28  2019-04-17
Spur Cross Meander
31  2019-02-10
Spur Metate Tortuga Dragon Jewel
5  2019-02-03
Spur Cross Loop
10  2019-01-25
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon
5  2019-01-12
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon
15  2018-12-25
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon
6  2018-12-23
Spur Cross Loop
8  2018-12-23
Spur Cross Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 11
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map ( 21,438 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
24 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Culture Rich Flora Explosion
by joebartels

Overview: Single track short cut (of Spur Cross Trail) that mingles with Cave Creek.

Hike: From the northeast junction with Spur Cross Trail you head southwest. The overhead views of Cave Creek are immediately pleasing. What makes this particular stretch oh-so-special is the mix of saguaros, mountain views and a running creek(in season). This vision may float in the minds of tourist. In reality the experience is rare in the sonoran desert. The occurrence here being the fringe where it meets the chaparral covered mountains.

Not wanting to but continuing on the flora is rich. Without the trail you'd be deep in a nasty bushwhack. The trail meanders about to the mesquite kingdom. In season this is an incredible experience. Mesquite trees canopy the trail. On my visit (peak season) fiddleneck wildflowers covered the ground in a two foot blanket. The idyllic setting is amazing in itself. What's more amazing is the history of this trail. I don't know the history but the facts are busting at the seams. Other trails in the conservation area are made up of old jeep roads or modern cut trails. This single-track trail is listed on the 1978 New River Mesa topographical map and likely older versions too. Old cement foundations line the trail in places (further down). Tag in the proximity of the creek and the name of the trail. A metate is a ground stone tool used for processing grain and seeds by Native Americans. The stone is rubbed back and forth over a mano. It'd be one thing to come in here with a chainsaw and cut a quick path. This place definitely goes back in time.

The exquisite mesquite kingdom is short lived. Soon you cross Cave Creek. On the flip side the flora surrounding closes inward and up. Wild cucumber thrives through the bushes, trees and cacti in early spring. You pass the Towhee Trail junctions twice as it a short spur trail that hugs Cave Creek.

Soon after the second Towhee Trail junction the intense trail lined flora gives to wider views. Here you pass several old cement foundations of yesteryear. In the spring owl clover blankets the meadows with backdrops of saguaros against Sugarloaf Mountain.

It should be noted that the entire area flaunts "Do Not Enter" signs often. You're pretty much confined to the trail. There is one section lacking the signage that leads to a man made pond. It's almost heartbreaking to see the electric conduit feeding the electric pump. Nevertheless I'm sure it's appreciated by local fauna.

The trail ends soon at the southwest junction with Spur Cross Trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

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.

Most recent of 53 deeper Triplog Reviews
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus
247A is signed closed on the near end, which resides inside Spur Cross. The trail is in good shape and well used. To be legal simply hike 0.15 mi further on #4 to the forest boundary where off-designated-trail travel is legal. BTW proposed fee increases on Feb 21st might go live April 1st. If you support this forest buffer not keeping good trails open and charging you more... do absolutely nothing and you help seal the deal.

This wasn't the planned hike and I'm not a huge fan of this area. Which aside from despising the access stems heavily on wet hikes across Skull Mesa. Once again this desert dweller enters the area on a friggen rainy day... bah humbug

The mountain views along this moderate loop are fab. Due to our abbreviated plans Bruce suggested we head out a little further on #247. Passing a side canyon I through out a prayer we explore the narrow looking canyon. Boy howdy did we get lucky! An intriguing stretch flash rocked our peptides.

Then onwards to another Cottonwood Spring. Interesting 2 share the same name within a mile on the same 7.5 topo New River Mesa.

Bruce had the foresight to finish with Metate/Towhee. Which should be a given for every hike in the area. The area is as dry as I've seen. The wild cucumber that arches over Towhee is currently a dry brittle salad.
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus
This was plan B for the day.
Some of my relatives had the first area closed because they needed some "Privacy" while making little Eagles.

So after some conversation, we headed over to Spur Cross and did this loop.

Temps dropped a bit during the hike and we got a steady drizzle starting around 9:15, but we never got the 30mph gusts that were forecast. This is an enjoyable loop on some new sections of trail for me. Cottonwood Spring (the southwestern most, there are 3 in the area) had plenty of water to filter from. There was some plastic pipe, a shovel and pitch fork in the area also.

We hopped into Cottonwood Creek (Dry) for some splorin'. There were a couple of interesting rocky areas. We decided to go up to the next Cottonwood Spring. There was no sign of a spring that we found, but we caught the Cottonwood #247 here to turn around.

Ran into a a couple of other hikers out there prior to hitting the Metate Trail to check out the Huge Saguaros.

Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Just a great day to be in Spur Cross. I made a wrong turn on this hike and well it may have added to it. Because of my wrong turn at the Spur Cross/Rondo springs marker I had extra time so with that I added a few more trails.
Those trails being Metate and Towhee trails. And really if not for that wrong turn I would have probably ever hike those two trails. So in away I am glad I made that wrong turn. They weather was perfect and we really hade the trails to our selves at least 90% of the time.
Just a really great day to be hiking out here.
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Stayed in town and got out to the Spur Cross / Jewel of the Creek area.

Temps were perfect in the am, and with the afternoon breeze, never got to warm.

Dragonfly Trail, Maricopa Trail, Elephant Mountain, Tortuga Trail, Towhee, Metate, Cave Creek #4 are all in great shape

Limestone #252 is fading away. It is also filled with icky Foxtail grass.
All 18 minutes of break time were to pull them from my shoes.
Another 45 minutes at home to get them from my shoes and socks.

Saw a Gila Monster in the tall grass, and a bit later, a dead Gray Fox in the middle of the trail. Coincidence?
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Had some friends from Canada visit Wade and I. I met Loretta and Pat while on a 12-day Colorado River trip through the Grand Canyon last April and we have become good friends. They spend 6 weeks traveling the southwest each year getting away from the harsh weather of eastern Canada. Took them on the Cave Creek, Spur Cross trail to the petroglyphs crossing the creek 8 times. On the way back, I slipped off a rock that moved on me and down into the water I went. Slight bruise on my knee and forearm, but overall, no issues. In fact, the water felt good. There were a lot less wildflowers on this trail than there were on the Elephant Mountain Trail, but a lot more water. My favorite bird, the Canyon Wrens, were singing away putting a smile on my face. The only people we passed on the trail were on horseback. My friends really enjoyed the petroglyphs and the hike.
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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My first real adventure in a hot minute. I love love love Cave Creek, and specifically Spur Cross Ranch!!! I was at the TH before first light and paid my dues with headlamp at the self pay station. Saw about 15 javelina, one of which snorted at me at the first Cave Creek crossing. Made my way up over to Limestone Spring which was dry. All the water sources out there, expectedly are dry as a bone including Cave Creek itself.

After a hot summer in which I've had some medical issues, it felt good to get out and be alone in a beautiful beautiful place.
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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From Spur Cross we took Cave creek out to 6L ranch and then east to join trail 4 and back to Spur Cross.

Saw a gila monster on the connector trail and checked out the crash site. Got sprinkled on a few times but nothing much. I can’t believe these temps in early May - about 64 when we started and 74 at the end. Perfect!
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Took my neighbor and her Aunt and Uncle to Spur Cross to see the petrogylphs. I think it was a little longer of a hike than they wanted to do, but they hung in there and did all the creek crossings just fine. A little breezy and cool today but worked up a sweat on the return. They took lots of photos. They neighbors's relatives saw a Bobcat coming into Spur Cross in the morning and we saw a skunk in its den just off the trail. The skunk would not move and did not seem to care that we were staring at it trying to figure out if it was alive or dead. It was definitely alive and it moved slowly away and we moved quickly away. A good hike and everyone was sufficiently tired the rest of the afternoon.
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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Hiked up to the petroglyphs. Some friends from out of town want to do this hike next week. Just wanted to make sure the creek crossings were manageable for them. Lots of folks on the trails today. One group of three guys were totally lost. Got them headed back to the parking lot (hopefully).
Metate Trail - Spur Cross
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this is my last two day weekend for a few weeks due to work
wanted something longer, different, interesting and not on south mountain
skull mesa has been on my radar, along with the inner loop with quien sabe peak
didn't feel like driving up to seven springs, so went from spur cross
got a late start but still had enough time to make the kickoff of the cardinals game :D
took spur cross trail to the point where cave creek trail begins
in a few hundred feet, cottonwood trail splits off
2.5 miles later, it intersects with skull mesa trail at a fence line
a rocky ascent to skull mesa
took a left at the top to check out the views
while not a peak, it's a nice high point
decided to hike east on the mesa
the trail became hard to follow, but i went all the way to the eastern edge and headed back right at my turn around time
really could have done without this part, as the footing was challenging, hiking over rocks and cactus covered by grass
huge mesa, and sometimes a little exploration is in order
it would have been nice if i had downloaded the track for skull mesa trail rather than following random cairns
my track will show that i wasn't very successful at following the trail
back down to the trailhead, and decided to finish on metate trail for some variety
the maps all say cave creek trail #4 begins at spur cross trailhead, but the sign says skull mesa trailhead :-k
found 247 and 248 slow going, with scree and loose rock, and a lot of ups and downs
will have to take that into account next time
still have quien sabe peak on my list
nice to get up north; it's been awhile
beautiful day
saw no one once i left spur cross trail

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
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