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Seven Springs Inner Loop, AZ

Guide 14 Triplogs  1 Topic
  4.5 of 5 
113 14 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 14 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,361 feet
Elevation Gain 1,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,150 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 29.75
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
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5  2021-01-19 blueberry1222
14  2018-11-03
Rustic 7 Springs Ride from Bronco TH
34  2017-12-19 KBKB
30  2015-12-27 Uncharted
7  2014-01-24 Sun_Ray
14  2011-01-08
Quien Sabe Peak
9  2010-04-23 MEWhiteman
Author MEWhiteman
author avatar Guides 46
Routes 95
Photos 847
Trips 375 map ( 2,893 miles )
Age 78 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Apr, Nov, Oct, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:35am - 7:33pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2005 Cave Creek Complex169.4 mi*

Views & solitude
by MEWhiteman

Seven Springs is a recreation area north of Carefree in the Tonto National Forest. There are over 30 miles of official trails in this area, some connecting to the Spur Cross Recreation Area. This hike called the Inner Loop is a lasso loop utilizing five trails through some beautiful, remote, and hilly country near the Phoenix Metro area. This is a strenuous hike and is difficult to follow in places, but rewards you with great views and solitude.

This description of the hike is in the clockwise direction. All trail junctions were signed at the time I did this hike. Begin on the Cave Creek Trail (#4) at the south corner of the parking area (N33 58.344 W111 52.000). Follow #4 for 0.8 miles to the junction with the Cottonwood Creek Trail (#247) (N33 57.833 W111 52.144). There are several side trails along this section, so be careful to stay on #4. At the sign for #247, you want to go left across the river, but at the time I did this the bank was eroded away. There's an easy way down to the river a short distance further on to the left. Once in the riverbed look for cairns leading to one on the opposite bank at N33 57.801 W111 52.131. At this cairn, turn left. The trail makes a sharp right in about .02 miles. From here the trail is easy to follow to the junction with the Skunk Tank Trail (#246) at 1.1 miles (N33 57.617 W111 52.114). You will pass through this intersection on the way back also. At this junction turn left to stay on #247. Continue on #247 for another 2.6 miles to the junction with the Bronco Creek Trail (#245) (N33 55.807 W111 51.386) at 3.7 miles. Bear R here to stay on #247. Continue another 2.1 miles on the Cottonwood Creek Trail crossing Cottonwood Creek numerous times until reaching the signed junction with the Skull Mesa Trail (#248) at mile 5.8 (N33 55.189 W111 53.107).

The next two trails, Skull Mesa (#248) and Quien Sabe (#250) are faint and difficult to follow in places. My accompanying GPS track follows the tread for the most part but may be off in places where I could see where the trail was ahead due to a cairn or ribbon but could not see the tread in the ground due to spring vegetation and light use. Turn right onto the Skull Mesa Trail (#248) as it climbs a ridge. The views are nice for the next few miles. Follow #248 for 1.8 miles to the junction with the Quien Sabe Trail (#250) (N33 55.728 W111 53.927) at 7.6 miles. Turn right onto #250 hiking 2.5 miles to the junction with the Skunk Tank Trail (#246) (N33 57.310 W111 53.815) at 10.1 miles. As with Skull Mesa Trail keep your GPS handy as the trail "disappears" frequently.

Turn right on the Skunk Tank Trail (#246). This follows an old road and is easy to follow, unlike the two prior trails. Continue on #246 for 2.8 miles to the junction with the Cottonwood Trail (#247) (N33 57.617 W111 52.114) at 12.9 miles. You passed through this intersection at the beginning of the hike. Turn left onto #247 and retrace your steps from the beginning of the hike. You should be back at the trailhead at 14.0 miles or so depending on how well you were able to stay on the trail and any exploration you did.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-04-23 MEWhiteman
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    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
    page created by MEWhiteman on Apr 23 2010 10:09 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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