register help

Skunk Tank Trail #246, AZ

no permit
270 62 0
Guide 62 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.5 of 5 by 15
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,920 feet
Elevation Gain 1,122 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,482 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 12.16
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
8  2019-02-10
Quien sabe peak loop
7  2019-01-21
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop
11  2018-11-30
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop
24  2018-11-28
Quien Sabe Peak
14  2018-11-03
Rustic 7 Springs Ride from Bronco TH
27  2018-03-15
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop
34  2017-12-19
Seven Springs Inner Loop
10  2017-03-10
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Sun  6:12am - 6:31pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Author Full Detail Guide

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

  • Map
    area related
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 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
W O W...

This is an incredible Arizona day hike. I'd been dreaming about this peak for over a year. So today with in-laws getting on my nerves, other people getting on my nerves, I was looking for something to keep me out of the house much longer than normal. So I dialed this one up...

I parked at the Cave Creek TH at the Seven Springs Campground. Since it was about 5:45 when I got there and pitch dark (and also 40 degrees), I couldn't see well enough to know that I could have parked several other places back down the road, shortening my hike. Oh well. Extra miles and a few AEG.

I did the standard approach. I had originally planned to just assault the Quien Sabe Peak Ridgeline from the 246 trail up what was designated as a wash on the topo, but that looked pretty daunting. Then I changed plans to continue to go Skunk Creek Trail and intersect with the Quien Sabe Trail on the backside of the ridge. Alas, I got impatient and left that plan at a place that looked doable. I made it up to the little prairie and then to the final push to what becomes the ridgeline. After ~30 minutes, I had made the final traverse of the ridgeline and I could see what was going to be the summit.

The summit block is a little anti-climactic but I was very glad to have gained it. It must have been in the mid 30s at the summit and there were so many clouds, I actually was hoping to see a random flake but alas, no.

Then I made a fateful (for my legs) decision. Go back the way I came, which was a known route, not really that steep but would take me ALL THE WAY back down the ridge, OR descend off the summit block down what was the actual wash that leads to Quien Sabe Spring.

Let's see the spring he said. It will be fun he said.

It wasn't.

I was literally crashing and surfing down the thickest catclaw that I have ever seen. My legs don't even look like legs anymore they are so scratched, gouged, and bloody!

Finally, I got down near the spring proper.

It was a :pk: rusty pipe. Not even a spring or any water etc. S O A B.

But, at least I was close to where I had originally hiked and back on the 246 trail.

After that, it was pretty much all downhill from there and I was down near the Cartwright Ranch in no time. If that was a real ranch, I'd like to work there as a ranch hand. That little valley there is beautiful.

So, all in all a GREAT hike. This was a top 5 outdoor experience for me in Arizona. For sure.
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
I've been wanting to do some hikes up in this area for ages! Today was the day! Texted my hiking buddy Maria and the plan was set. Stopped at the Circle K in Cave Creek and picked up a Tonto Pass and pulled into the trailhead parking lot just past 7am to a blustery 46 degrees! Trail was well marked and easy to follow. There was water in places along Cave Creek and a canopy of trees. We did the loop counter clock-wise following trail 4 all the way to the Skunk Tank junction. At the junction we met up with fellow hikers Melissa and Bob, the owners of the lone car in the parking area when we arrived. We hiked with them for a ways up Skunk Tank trail, but they were burning calories at a faster pace and we bid our new trail friends adieux. Skunk Tank trail is the hard part, lots of up, a couple of downs and more ups! Breathtaking scenery as you climb out of the surrounding canyons. I will definitely to do more hikes in this area!
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
We wanted a moderate hike relatively close to town. We set our sights on Cave Creek. I remember FOTG posting a hike to Quien Sabe Peak and thought it looked fun. The drive to the TH took about an hour and we were off.

We decided on a CCW loop with Quien Sabe Peak. The first few miles flew by as we hiked along Cave Creek. This is a really nice stretch of trail. From there we made the climb up Skunk Tank Trail and saw some wildflowers blooming. There were several patches along this stretch.

From there we connected on Quien Sabe Trail and then headed off trail for the peak following FOTG's route. The going was slow as we fought dense vegetation with a mixture of sharp cacti. Our pace was really slow through here. Along the way we found a ruin marked with a cairn. It's a pile of rocks in the shape of single building. I found a few pot shards. FOTG would like this but not many others. :) We continued on and hit the peak where we took a break and looked over the route. I had Joe's route in which they drop off the west side of the peak. This would significantly shorten the off trail portion. We decided to give this route a go and were glad we did. There's a variety of game trails and the vegetation is light. We were back on trail within 30 minutes.

Once back on trail we flew back to the trailhead completing the loop. This hike took more effort than we anticipated. I'm really glad we got it done. Take the western route you'll save some time and effort.

Patches of wildflowers blooming at the higher elevations of the Skunk Tank Trail
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Well another late start but we did finish the hike. I also discovered that Rowdy loves to get in the water :y: .
This was my first time up to Seven Springs. I really enjoyed it maybe because it was not to busy. There were a half dozen hikers on Cave Creek Trail. I did stop and talked to a few of them and they all said they were doing the same loop as me. But once I headed up Skunk Tank trail I never saw another person all the way back to the trailhead. It was a great hike and I really think I wore Rowdy out. This was his first that he laid in the back seat all the way home. :lol:

Poppies everywhere
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Chumley and I wanted to do a moderate hike with a relatively late start. He picked this loop and it was the perfect option for the day. He picked me up around 10am and we made our way to trailhead with Blanco & Cup Cake. Lee was busy at home watching football and relaxing.

We started the hike around 11am and made good time. We passed a handful of people as we paralleled the creek. This section is a real treat! We started the climb around the 4 mile mark and the rest of the hiking is just okay from here. We took a short lunch break at a small pool that was partially frozen over. The dogs were able to get some water here. Afterward we plowed through the remainder of the hike and were back to the car around 3pm. This was the perfect chill hike for the day. Thanks Chumley for driving.
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
Unaware of the pending end of the year and unconcerned with personal hiking statistics, FOTG decided to just relax at home and watch football, so I took it upon myself to drive over and dognap Blanco and Cup as they are not really into lazy, relaxing weekends.

9L was recovering from the weeklong holiday bender he's been on, so we took it slow and just enjoyed the day. Any water we found that wasn't flowing was frozen, even in the sun later in the day. I broke through a few of them for the dogs to drink. It didn't seem that cold. I was in shorts and short sleeves, but I doubt it got much over 50 at any point of the day.

The hike along Cave Creek is great while the return trip is somewhat boring and drags on for a while. There are some nice views though. In the end, it was basically just about what I was looking for today.

Most everything is done. A few straggling yellows on some cottonwoods.
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Quien Sabe Loop
Great loop hike. Highlights were the Quien Sabe Trail which I really enjoyed, and the Cottonwood Trail. The route finding on the Quien Sabe Trail was pretty straight forward, the trail is a little overgrown but the tread is well defined and the route takes a very logically path. The area where we did have a little challenge keeping on track was on the Skunk Mesa Trail, between Quien Sabe and before you make the decent down to the Cottonwood Trail. We would be on trail then at a blink of an eye we were off trail, repeat, repeat, repeat. After a bit of this, at Ryan's request, we picked a landmark and just headed straight for it. It worked out, got us to where we needed to be, and stopped the retracing we were doing.

The road to the TH was in really good shape, even with the recent storm. Saw no other hikers the entire day, but we did run into a camp set up in the creek bed of Cave Creek, right at the crossing of the Skunk Mesa Trail, so we had to walk right through their camp at 7 AM, while they were sleeping. IMO, not the best choice for a camp.
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
A few weeks ago some friends asked what I wanted for my birthday. Told them waking up in my sleeping bag somewhere was my birthday wish. They were in immediately and just wanted to know where. None of these folks are backpackers, so it was going to be car camping, maybe someplace with a pretty and decently easy trail for everyone, and then maybe something a little more demanding for me. Settled on camping at Seven Springs.

Day 1

We rendezvoused at the Seven Springs campground and set up camp. The friends now had family stopping through for a day, but they loved the idea of camping, not that they'd done much of it. So a nice popup camper substituted for the friend's base while I brought along two tent cots manufactured by and Australian company, Jet Tents. Lots of food and liquids of all varieties rounded out our provisions.

We have a tradition of naming our camps. The group agreed this was to be Camp 58. Wonder why?

MJ had sort of poo pooed my suggestion that the evenings were going to get cold. She packed a bit lightly. A couple breaking camp as we arrived mentioned how cold they were that previous night. MJ was again skeptical. Not real campers she said.

We found some old dead cedars for firewood, settled in with libations and then a great grilled chicken and roasted sweet potato dinner put on by the friends. The fire was warm and the conversation lively, at least until about 7:30 and folks began to drift away. Tried to read for a while but soon I too closed my eyes. Woke after midnight and it was pretty cold. It was really cold about sunrise -- 24 degrees. MJ wasn't so skeptical anymore about those temps and was soon rummaging through my clothes bag.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast and some chores around camp, our group of six and two dogs hiked the Cave Creek Trail #4 out to the big pool a little past the 3 mile point and had a snack there. The trail along Cave Creek for the first few miles is one of my favorites. It's just pretty and relaxing. We were all in high spirits and seriously enjoying the day.

As we started back, Bear (a 10 month old pup) went out on a rock outcropping above the creek to pose for a great photo. I liked it so much that I followed him out. Bear decided to do me one better by climbing down the steep rock face towards the creek. I called him back and his owners really called him -- STOP, COME, STAY, DON'T and several really choice and highly descriptive words as well. Bear just decided to hunker down and see what was going to happen. The rescue effort was highly entertaining, to Bear anyway. I sort of got a kick out of it too. Some entertainment you just can't buy.

The family visitors of the friends had to get going not long after we returned to camp. We said our good byes and I began building the perfect fire to generate some coals for steaks later. The effort was certainly worth it when we chowed down on some nicely seared cow with grilled veggies, beans and some toast. Might have even been some whiskey drunk, too. A birthday cake magically arrived in camp from some hiding spot. Nature provided a classically beautiful sunset to decorate the camp for us. We hung around the fire a little later than the previous evening. MJ was properly bundled up with about 5 layers and it only got down to 30 for this night, so all slept well.

Day 3

A great breakfast of ham and eggs and fresh baked breads started off my actual birthday. The group serenaded me nicely and provided a few gifts to go with my coffee. A very nice touch to me getting exactly what I wanted for my birthday. We broke down camp and packed up. Everyone else headed home to rejoin the uncivilized world. I wasn't ready for that just yet. I took my pack and headed out to the summit of Quien Sabe just to prove and old guy can still get up a hill. It's a nice hike and then some scrambling bushwacking up and across Quien Sabe. Found a fairly lonely geocache up there, enjoyed the views for a bit and then reversed my route for our campsite, my Jeep, and the drive home.

The camp gave me 20 miles of hiking, fun times with friends and MJ, and some good memories. It was a simple and perfect way to celebrate 58 years of life on this spinning ball. Most of those 58 were great, some were tough, but that is exactly how life should be. Any day with dirt under your feet is a good day. There will be plenty of those in my 59th year if I have my way.
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Quien Sabe Peak Loop
Been wanting to hit up the eastern portion of this area. Original plan was to start at the Bronco TH, but that upped the miles and at the time I really wanted to get home to see ASU play themselves into the Rose Bowl.

A balmy 19 degrees at the 6:30am start, 8:00 we finally hit 30 degrees, 40 degrees at 8:45, hit the low 50's in Cottonwood Creek for 40 minutes at 1pm, and then just hung mid 40's for the remainder. It really was not too bad when the wind laid down.

Highlights for me on this hike were
- Checking out the overgrown but still wet Quien Sabe Spring.
- The climb up and the views from atop Quien Sabe Peak.
- Skull Mesa & Cottonwood Trails between Quien Sabe intersection and where the Cottonwood Trail - Turns north.
- Checking out Bluebird Spring - Some pooling in the area
- Exploration of the now decommissioned Ashdale Ranger station (See Photos)

Todays Lesson
Quien Sabe (kee-en' sah'-be),
Translation = I do not know; lit., who knows? ... nunciation

Seven Springs Campgrounds and Ashdale Ranger station were built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in 1933-34.

Ashdale Ranger Station Photo from back in the Day :next:

Accomplishments of the CCC in the US over the life of the program:
* Planted 1,255,000,000 tree seedlings over 1,255,000 acres of land
* Fought tree diseases on over 16,722,000 acres
* Installed 64,374 miles of telephone lines to assist in forest fire protection
* Constructed more than 3,400 fire lookout and observation towers
* Constructed 3,982,000 check dams for nation-wide erosion control program
* Constructed 41,000 bridges and 44,475 buildings of various types
Skunk Tank Trail #246
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
From the Seven Springs TH, Cave Creek Trail #4 counter clockwise to Skunk Creek Trail #246 to Cottonwood Trail #247 to #4 and the TH.

When I hike this one again, I'll do it clockwise. It's just so hard to talk yourself out of the river bed for that first 4.5 miles.

As mentioned in other triplogs, pay little attention to the mileages on the signs. The loop described is easy to follow and in good shape for the most part. There are portions of the Skunk Creek trail that get rocky.

This is a great little hike. The creek was a flowin', the little waterfalls along the way always sound good, and I have my eye on a great little swimming hole for later in the summer. The flowers are still doing great in this area. I saw a lot types I had not seen before. The first 4.5 miles along the creek is more or less flat actually loosing about 400' and is protected in many places from the sun. Once you make the turn on Skunk Creek #246, this changes with a pretty good climb of 1100+ feet in 2 miles. Both the Skunk Tank and Quien Sabel Springs were flowing strong.

Permit $$
no fees or permits reported

if incorrect tell us about it

Map Drive

To Cave Creek Seven Springs Trailhead
Cave Creek TH in the Seven Springs Campground area.

From the intersection of Tom Darlington Rd and Cave Creek Rd, travel East on Cave Creek Rd. At 2.2 miles you pass Pima Rd. Continue on Cave Creek Rd and at 6.3 miles you reach Bartlett Dam Rd. Follow sign to Seven Springs Rd. At 9.1 miles you pass the Sears Kay Ruins. The pavement ends at 10.8 miles. You pass the Bronco TH at 13.8 miles and the road is now marked Forest Road 24. At 17.6 miles you pass a private ranch. At 17.9 miles you pass the Seven Springs Campground and the Cave Creek TH is on your left at 18.5 miles.

2012-03-07 Nahimana222 writes: From the signs I saw at the trailhead, you need a Tonto Pass to park.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 51.5 mi - about 1 hour 36 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 153 mi - about 2 hours 57 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 127 mi - about 2 hours 38 mins
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
help comment issue

end of page marker