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Cave Creek Trail #4, AZ

no permit
1.5k 165 1
Guide 165 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.6 of 5 by 37
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,602 feet
Elevation Gain 839 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,490 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 16.65
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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2  2019-04-04 survivordude
16  2019-02-24
Skull Mesa Trail #248
8  2019-02-10
Quien sabe peak loop
10  2019-01-25
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon
7  2019-01-21
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop
5  2019-01-12
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon
15  2018-12-25
Cave Creek Indian Ruins at Chalk Canyon
24  2018-12-05
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 14
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
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec → Early
Seasons   Winter to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:37pm
Official Route
26 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Cave Creek Trail ties to several other trails, providing opportunities for loop hikes and rides. This trail passes through the Arizona Upland Phase of the Sonoran Desert and through riparian areas of sycamore and cottonwood. The riparian areas sometimes contain pools in which to cool off in the summer heat. These pools contain a variety of fish, including long-fin dace, Gila top minnow, Fathead minnow and green sunfish. Drier area vegetation includes saguaro, mesquite, palo verde and acacia. Eleventh-century Hohokam Indians farmed along the creek bed. Early cattlemen used the trail for moving livestock.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
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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 42 deeper Triplog Reviews
Cave Creek Trail #4
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Prepping for a Grand Canyon hike at the end of the month, I finally crossed this one off my list. I was joined today by harem regulars Carey and Pammy. We followed the Cottonwood Spring Loop counter-clockwise out to Skull Mesa. We encountered some campers near the Skull Mesa / Cottonwood intersection who were also destined for the ruins at the far end of the mesa. Once we got to the top of Skull Mesa, we mistakenly continued to follow trail #248 east until we realized we were going in the wrong direction. No big deal, we worked our way back to our desired route. Not much of any trail to follow across the top of Skull Mesa to get out to the ruins. We had a great time exploring the ruins and enjoying the views before making our way back to Cottonwood Trail. We followed Cottonwood Trail all the way back to Spur Cross and then returned to much desired parking lot. This was my longest duration, longest distance, and greatest AEG hike! Can't wait to beat it.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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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.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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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.

Cave Creek Trail #4
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Sugar Loaf Mtn Loop
I rounded up the all stars to follow Oregon_Hiker's track to the Sugarloaf Mountain airplane crash site. 46 degree start at the Spur Cross trail head. We followed Spur Cross trail northwest to Tortuga Loop to Elephant Mountain and continued North to Tonto NF Trail 252 Lime Creek. Stopped by the 2 nearby ruins sites just to the east and then turned west and north up Peterson Spring trail. The trail up to the spring are fairly well marked and easy to follow. Water was running and the pool and tank were full. There's also a cattle feeder above the spring that's worth checking out. This is where the off trail starts. The GPS track takes a pretty natural path to the Sugarloaf/Black Mesa saddle above that has a barb wire fence along the ridge. There's 2 places the fence is down that you can cross to the north side. I wasn't sure which side of the fence we needed to be on and we ended up crawling under once we saw we were no long going in the right direction. Between the fence and the crash site is a real bush wack, we did our best to stay near the track while avoiding pointy things. The crash site way points were right on and brought this 17 year old's tragedy to life. It's hard to imagine the agony that young man went through during his last hours on that hot July morning. From the crash site we headed east toward Trail 4. Travel was slow as we zig zagged through the prickly pear stands and deadly agave spears. The track eventually drops into the same drainage that has the wreckage further up the mountain. We opted to just follow the drainage all the way back to Trail 4. This ended up being much easier than the brutal cross country travel as we were in the shade, it was nice and cool, there was far less spikey things, and we found an large additional plane piece. This was about a half mile from the crash site up the hill! Back on Trail 4, we maintained a brisk pace back to the truck and enjoyed lunch at Big Earl's in Cave Creek.

Big thanks to Oregon_hiker for all his work on this!

Tree turning from green to yellow along Cave Creek trail #4.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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Took the lady on her first backpack trip, thought this would be a good initiation. Started at the trailhead at Seven Springs, hiked to the first campsite at around 1.9 miles, it was ok, but very small and right on the trail. This is where I camped when I did the Skull Mesa Loop a few years ago. Continued on the trail for another half mile, three quarters of a mile, passed another site on the south side of the trail, but it's pretty exposed and not too pretty. A little further there is a clearing and a big campsite at the edge of a little cliff that drops down to the creek on the north side of the trail. We were looking for a shady spot to put the tent and walked a little farther into the trees and found another small kind of hidden campsite, perfect for two; shady, small fire ring, also right on top of the water. A short walk down to the creek to get water. I am hesitant to talk about it, since it seemed like a hidden gem, but it wouldn't be right not to share with this community, so others can enjoy it. Only bad thing about the trip was the bugs, tons of gnats, and of course the one thing I didn't bring was bug spray.
Very quiet, just us and the birds. Got to see a Rattler swimming across the creek towards us as we were sitting beside it chilling in the late afternoon. Scared the lady a little, but it got to our side about 8 feet away and slithered into the tall grass with nary a rattle. We left it alone of course, and needless to say, but waited a little while longer before we made our way back since we had to pass by where it had disappeared into the grass.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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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?
Cave Creek Trail #4
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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.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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The last time I came here I was a little disappointed and never made it to the ruins. This time it was a mission. I take back all the bad stuff I said about Spur Cross. Instead of just taking the road trail I went with the metate trail and it was great. The trail goes through a really lush area and there were some gigantic saguaros here. Some of these would give the Superstition saguaros a run for their money. The recent rains have really got everything so green and huge. The entire trip was through thick and tall vegetation. I decided to take the loop with the Cave Creek trail up and back around to the top and then down to the ruins site. Unfortunately there was way to much prickly pear on the ground for Gabby to navigate so we ended up way past the ruins when we made our decent. Did climb back up a short ways to check out a few rock walls and also all the great petroglyphs. I love looking at the art and trying to figure out the stories being told. I have decided this one is aliens. Found a dead animal, not sure if it was a fox, but I'm sure it was dead. Didn't see anyone at all until we made it back out of the Tonto and officially in Spur Cross. Then I ran into several groups and they all talked about the several rattlesnakes they saw on the trail. I saw zero snakes but I did see rabbits, lizards, tons of different birds, and a pack of javelina. Really enjoyed this one today and so did Gabby.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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From Spur Cross we hiked Cave Creek out to the 6L Ranch site and then east on the connector trail to trail #4 back to the TH. Did a little exploring on the west side of the ranch. Nice flow in the creek. The connector trail was very easy to follow but lightly marked at the top. Saw two Javelina on the connector trail towards the top. Absolutely perfect weather.
Cave Creek Trail #4
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One of the prettiest hikes around. Good mileage without extreme elevation challenges.

You hike along Cave Creek and do have to cross the creek two times in each direction. The water was quite high, due to the recent rains, but the creek was passable without much trouble. We tried to go to the Skunk Tank intersection, but at about the 4 mile mark we found the creek difficult to cross so we turned around and went back.

There were several muddy areas we had to cross.

There's an amazing crested saguaro cactus at N33° 58.002' W111° 53.981'. That site alone is worth the trip. I posted a picture of the saguaro.

The desert is very green and the wildflowers, when in bloom should be incredible.

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Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

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
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