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Tough Climb up the Elephants Nose
This is the climb to the top of Elephant Mountain, a notible landmark in Cave Creek.
I started at the Spur Cross parking lot and walked into the park, making a left turn on the Spur Cross trail. Continue on this trail for about 0.82 miles to the junction of the Tortuga trail and turn right.
At 1.5 miles in, you reach the Elephant Mountain trail, this trail is a little rougher than the other trails, and the park even says it's not regularly maintained. At 0.2 miles on this trail, you reach a fork with Elephant Mtn trail to the left and the Tonto Nat Forest straight ahead, make a left on the narrower trail through the thick desert vegetation. On this trail, you'll drop down steps into a wash and follow it. Keep your eyes open for rock cairns to guide you out of the wash bed.
At 2.44 miles, you reach the jct of Forest trail 252 with a sign that plainly says trail, continue straight ahead to the left of the sign uphill. The trail gets quite steep in this area as you make the climb toward the saddle.
At 2.44 miles you reach the saddle at 3175 feet. This is where the fun begins! On the saddle, make a right turn and go straight up the ridge of the mountain toward the large rock formations. At some points, it might seem to be a path, but other times there's no trace of human activity. Once you reach the first rocks, you see you are higher than Indian Fortress, the opposite direction from the saddle. These rocks have some crevasses that would make a cool hiding place. Continue up the ridge to the next set of rocks. This is where it gets a bit more tricky in the route finding.
At the next rocks, you might want to travel on the left side of the ridge around them. After those rocks the ridge make a turn to the left and becomes quite narrow. This is where you need to be careful since either way you fall could result in a bad tumble.
Coming up to the next rock formation, go around to the left side and then up over. At this point, you'll see a false summit. Don't worry, you're almost to the true summit. At this point, you should notice the vegetation becomes more grass than shrubs, at least the time of the year I hiked it.
Once at the top, you'll have views of the entire park, Cave Creek, Phoenix, and the route you came up. There is a rock pile some people constructed with a primitive summit register. Those who climb this may want to consider upgrading the hardware as it consisted of an old Tupperware container full of cracks. From here to get down, just reverse the way you came up. Also, be careful with the Teddy Bear Cholla as there are groves of these all over.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.