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Wind Cave Trail #281, AZ

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Guide 476 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
2.8 of 5 by 84
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,000 feet
Elevation Gain 800 feet
Accumulated Gain 763 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 - 2 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 7.02
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2019-06-01 kenandjude
1  2019-05-14 Tortoise_Hiker
1  2019-04-26 Tortoise_Hiker
5  2019-02-07 JuanJaimeiii
13  2019-01-08 adilling
8  2018-11-26
Pass Mountain Ridgeline
1  2018-10-21 Tortoise_Hiker
13  2018-05-20
Pass Mountain Ridgeline
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 13
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,257 map ( 21,432 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:30pm
Official Route
30 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by joebartels

Wind Cave receives a fair amount of chit chat regarding the disagreeable trail name. The cave is more of a notch or shallow alcove at best. Bathrooms, several Pepsi machines and a water fountain are all located at the trailhead.

Within the first few minutes you enter Tonto National Forest. Saguaro roots cross the trail soon after. Gradually ascend the first half mile. Well built and maintained the trail itself is more of a highlight than the destination.

Desert cacti and palo verde dominate the landscape. Heavy concentrations of Saguaros pack the area. Continue the steep trek up and across the face of Pass Mountain. The trail proved to be more of a huffer than expected. Valley views just get better as you go up. The cave isn't anything to get excited about. A few hanging plants cling to the roof and that's about it. Just past the Wind Cave sign is another sign indicating non-maintained trail ahead. Someone has scratched off the "non" part. Views to the south are just around the corner but be careful.

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2000-05-09 joebartels
  • Usery Trails 2019 Map
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    Usery Trails 2019 Map
  • Usery Trails 2019 Map
    area related
    Usery Trails 2019 Map
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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 32 deeper Triplog Reviews
Wind Cave Trail #281
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Decided to go for a local hike again today as the weather forecast was a high of only 80 today. Besides doing the loop clockwise added in Meridian trail,Blevins trail portion of and wind cave trail. Still no rattlesnakes seen this year, maybe last year I saw more than usual almost every hike after March. Also it’s like a mini spring break with young people out on the Wind Cave trail wish the teachers would go back to work.Wind Cave trail remains the 3rd busiest outdoor treadmill in the area after Camelback and Piestewa peak summit.Maybe I’ll be awarded the curmudgeonpelli award soon. Was a nice day but a little warm about midday, after leaving the viewpoint on the loop only saw 6 other hikers.
Wind Cave Trail #281
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Haven't done wind cave in awhile. The masses were out on this beautiful Easter Sunday. What better way to leave the crowds behind than to venture on to the peak of the mountain. Refreshing to see that some kind soul had gone to work removing the ugly white arrows from the non-maintained trail up to the top. Reminds me of the days cleaning ugly orange and blue arrows off the Siphon Draw with several HAZ comrades.

The air was clear, great visibility and only ran into a couple other hikers who had the same idea as me. Crazy busy trying to get back down the mountain. Fortunately, I had no intentions of setting any speed records on the way down.

Wind Cave Trail #281
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Finally cleared this off our Bucket List, took long enough ( 22 yrs ) :o Wind Cave was packed, glad to get up around the corner. Amazes me that a lot of people trail blaze the easiest and shortest way up and down to the southern summit. We watched a family with 2 kids bushwhack down the steepest western part, and really, heard how concerned they were !!! Got up to the saddle and turned left and made our way across the spine. As we got to the doorway we spotted painted dots and arrows showing the best way up and over, we're not a big fan of these, but thanks to who ever lead the way and placed all the huge cairns and dots. Also a trail was started, I think maybe using a game trail. Made it a lot simpler. Also when the cairns ran out, they placed a X on a rock, near the edge of the cliff, but it looked like it lead back down West and connected with Wind Cave Trl ??.... We kept going up to right on the land bridge and worked our way over to the Summit, signed in and headed back down to Pass Mtn Loop Trl ( Very slippery, be careful ) and back to the TH Great Day, Happy to have done this :y: :D
Wind Cave Trail #281
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I did this with my Grandkids, Lily and Isaac. They did great. Lily did have a little fall on the way down :o . From there we headed to the playground for rootbeer and snacks. A Coyote was leaving as we got there :o . The kids blew some bubbles and played on the playground for awhile and then we headed home. :y:
Wind Cave Trail #281
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I hit the trail at 5:03 am. I passed two ladies and a Tarantula on the way up and around 25 hikers and 1 runner on the way down. On the way down I was moving over for an uphill hiker and then this happen. Older lady(cougar?)"I'll move over for the young stud". My ego :o : rambo : . Then a "young stud" runs by from behind me. She was talking to him! My ego :oops: :lol: . It's tough getting old and life is a hoot :sl: !
After Wind Cave I hiked around Pass Mountain counter clockwise. About a mile from the car I ran into a ol' friend. Always awesome for me to see these guys out on the trail. :y:
Wind Cave Trail #281
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Very much enjoyed this loop. Came with the thought of doing just Wind Cave, then saw it was only 3mi. So instead I went for broke and completed the Pass Mtn Loop. What a gem that was. I really like the narrow hillside trail and different terrain throughout the 7 miler. When I finished, saw that I still had time for Wind Cave if I huffed it. That was a nice trail too, just much more crowded.
Wind Cave Trail #281
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I've been fighting off a chest cold for the last week and I wanted to see where I was at with a 75 mile trip coming up on Thursday. I'm a little nervous. I wasn't slower than usual, but it certainly felt like it took more effort than usual, and I was hacking up some phlegm at the top with a little bit of chest pain...

I've been feeling a little bit better every day, so i'll try something bigger tomorrow and see how it sits. I would hate to have to postpone this trip because of the work days my cousin had to get off for it.

Really nice outside today compared to the last few. Warm but breezy. Almost stepped on a small snake on the way up, I think it was a gopher. Looks like I might of missed the best of the wild flowers out at Usery. I wanted to check out the flowers along the loop but by the time I got back down I decided against it and it didn't help that one of my gallon jugs I put in my pack for training had sprung a hole.

Everything looks really stressed.
Wind Cave Trail #281
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Slightly warm while out in the sun, and a little chilly while in the shade. Just how I like it.

Looks like a nice carpet of grass is starting to come in on certain parts of the mountain. I love this hike in the spring when there are poppies everywhere, hopefully it's going to be a good year for flowers.

After finishing the loop I headed up to the "Wind Cave" to finish off the day.

Other than all the smoggy views, Usery didn't disappoint, as usual.
Wind Cave Trail #281
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Went for a quick hike up Wind Cave ( I Thought ), was quick going up, but an hour back down. I forgot Xmas break, Football fans, you name it. I was somewhat on my :SB: about trail etiquette, but that's why I need to stay over on Lone Mountain or Usery Peak, I get just as good of a workout and no crowds :y: . Was nice visiting with everyone I met going down. What a difference a couple of days make for viewing downtown Phoenix, Sunday we could see for ever from Usery Peak, today downtown was covered with a thick layer of dirt :(
Wind Cave Trail #281
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This is an awesome, very underrated in my opinion, Valley area hike. It has pretty much everything that you can wring out of a hike to a 3312 foot summit. The Wind Cave wouldn't be worth it but doing the entire Ridgeline with both summits is awesome. There are a couple slightly exposed spots but nothing super sketchy. This was one of my favorite all time hikes.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Usery Wind Cave Trailhead
Directions to Usery Park: From the west on the 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) continue on PAST the FIRST McKellips exit ~10 mi, past Power Rd and take the SECOND McKellips exit. At the top continue on to your left around the round-about over the 202 and continue east on McKellips Rd. About 3 miles east of the 202 you come to Ellsworth Rd. Turn LEFT on Ellsworth and go north about 2 miles, turning right into Usery Mountain Regional Park just past the sign.
From the south on the 202, take the McKellips exit and head east, continuing to Ellsworth as above.

From the west on US 60 take the Ellsworth exit and head north on Ellsworth which eventually becomes Usery Pass Road north of McKellips. Continue past McKellips about 2 miles, turning right into Usery Mountain Regional Park just past the sign.

Directions to the Wind Cave trail head: Once in the park, continue on past the new (Spring 2010) Nature Center building to the information/entrance building where you either purchase a one-day pass or purchase an annual pass (good in all Maricopa Parks except Lake Pleasant) for seniors. If it's your first visit, be sure to ask for a map including information of the all 29 miles of trails in the park. After setting your pass receipt on your dash, continue on the road as it curves around toward the east. Continue past the four-way intersection until Wind Cave Drive on your left. Turn up the drive and follow it until you find a suitable parking place. If it's busy just continue on around the one-way loop until you find an empty spot along the road. The trail head itself is immediately to your right when looking at the Wind Cave facilities building.

Alternate Longer Access: For $2 per-person access turn right (east) off Ellsworth Road at McKellips road and drive about a mile until it ends at Crismon Rd. There is a parking on the SW corner. Entrance to the park is on the NE corner, there are maps and a payment box. The trail that heads north is loose and hard to walk, go east 1/2 mile to trail then head north 1 mile to horse staging area. Starting from this point adds about 5 miles to your round-trip hike to the Wind Cave Trailhead. Also about 150 feet in gain.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 34.8 mi - about 43 mins (up to 1 hour 10 mins in traffic)
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 128 mi - about 2 hours 0 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 173 mi - about 2 hours 45 mins
3 pack - loud whistle
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