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Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.3 of 5 by 20
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 2.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,410 feet
Elevation Gain 522 feet
Accumulated Gain 940 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.03
Interest Peak
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-03-30 Sun_Ray
5  2019-02-03
Spur Cross Loop
9  2019-01-23 gad38
15  2018-12-14 kingsnake
2  2018-11-23
Spur Cross Loop
8  2018-11-04
Spur Cross Limestone Loop
8  2018-04-01
Spur Cross Loop
7  2018-03-31
Spur Cross Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar
Sun  6:12am - 6:32pm
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17 Alternative
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A spring in your step
by kingsnake

Note: Statistics on this page reflect #252 one-way segment. The description below is a popular looping option, see this route for a 6.1mi / 580ft / 1045 aeg / 2.5-3 hour hike.

Overview: Trail 252 is really a 2.9 mile connector trail between the Spur Cross and Elephant Mountain Trails. As I find the Spur Cross Trail -- or at least the section on Maricopa County Park land -- to be so boring, if you were travelling west-to-east, or vice-versa, say between Cave Creek Regional Park and Cave Creek Trail #4, Trail 252 combined with Elephant Mountain Trail would make a decent diversion, with more elevation gain. But that would be a long hike. What if you want do something shorter, in Spur Cross, but (mostly) away from the dog walkers?

Hike: Take this lollipop.

The loop is a tale of three segments: The out, the fun (Trail 252), and the back.

As I hiked it, the out was from the drive-in port-a-potties, across Cave Creek, up Metate Trail, with a brief diversion into Towhee Trail, arriving at the Tonto National Forest gate in 1.2 total miles. Plenty of quail on Towhee Trail in winter, but very little vegetation beyond scattered orange berries. From there proceed north along FR 48 for about a mile to the old corral, which looks like it still gets occasional use. (Or, like I did, at .7 miles, where FR 48 crosses Cave Creek at a wash, get some minor rock-hopping in by going up Cave Creek to the old corral.)

Trail 252 kicks off from the southwest corner of the old corral, there's a short, rocky climb out of the corral, then a slow steady climb on a decent track, towards Sugarloaf Mountain. (It looks like you will head north, around the mountain, but actually you will end up turning south across its east slope.) There's lots of cactus in this area -- prickly pear, headgehog, etc. -- but thankfully no cholla. At 2.5 total miles, you will cross to the south bank of the wash, and the trail will slope up a bit, until you arrive at Limestone Spring in 2.9 total miles. (You can see where it gets its name from the scaling on the pipe.) The concrete tank was full, with a steady trickle. Probably okay with filtering. Quite a few bees, but not the aggressive kind.

It is a bit confusing crossing south across a lush wash, before proceeding between Sugarloaf Mountain and Hill 2803. The highpoint of the hike, 3.3 miles in, is about 2900 feet, in the saddle between Sugarloaf Mountain and unnamed 3100-foot hill. It is marked an old gate. It's not a government boundary, so must be from an old ranch. From there it is only a couple hundred yards to Page Spring, another concrete tank. (With, for some odd reason, a shovel hanging next to it.) It was also full, and looked filterable. Both the north and south slopes of the saddle have several white rock runoffs that would make for an interesting exploratory diversion.

So far the trail has been relatively benign, easy route finding, and not at all primitive like the parks map claims. However, from Page Spring south, the story changes. It's gets very rocky, often hard to route find and, in the segement between the two perma-cairns, up and down across washes.

Trail 252 is over, unless you continue south to the second perma-cairn, then back on Elephant Mountain Trail. Otherwise, like I did, dodge dog-walkers on the 2-mile trudge along Tortuga and Spur Cross back to the drive-in port-a-potties. (To make it intesting, I fantasized that I was skier moguling rocks with my hiking poles.)

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2012-12-14 kingsnake
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 22 deeper Triplog Reviews
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Fun solo hike on Limestone trail today. First time I’ve been on this trail, but it looked simple enough and it was a cool day. Started st Spur Cross and hiked NW on Spur Cross trail eventually transitioning to Tortuga trail and then elephant mountain trail. I only hiked a short way on elephant mountain trail and went on the trail to the Tonto national forest when elephant mountain trail veers west sharply at about 1.7 miles. Following the rocky trail aNorth about .1 miles took me to the gate to the TontonNatoonal Forest. The trail continues uphill for another .3 miles where it joins the Limestone trail. Taking a right at the intersection and heading Northeast put me on the Limestone Trail that runs over 2 miles to Cave Creek (the actual creek - not the town). This trail is very rocky in spots with narrow chutes and loose rock underfoot.
Today the hike was very lush following all the rain we have received this year. A small hill on the south side of the trail shortly after getting on the Limestone trail provided great views of the surrounding mountains and the town of Cave Creek to the South. I crossed two springs - Page Spring and Limestone Spring. Page was dry except for maybe a gallon of water but n a pool, but no dripping water. Limestone Spring was running at well and bet a gallon per minute. Once I reached Cave Creek at the East end of the Limestone trail, I was greeted by the sounds of running water in the creekbed. Running water is always s welcome sound when you live in the desert.
The only downside to this hike was missing trail#4 and being forced to follow the creek back to the main trail home, so don’t use my route as a guide for your trip. I ended up bushwhacking some and getting scratched up by the Hackberry.
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Clockwise. I forgot.... how miserable that rocky part of the trail is; especially when you're struggling. Yep, another bad hike for me, two in a row; previous to those, I'd been doing so well. Don't know if it was the heat even though it wasn't that hot.

At the Rondo Springs Rock, I decided since I hadn't seen anyone up in this area yet I better text my niece to let her know what I was doing. I told her the only sign of life I saw up here so far were lizards and one cardinal. I told her hopefully the snakes were sleeping. 15 minutes later I got buzzed and in my haste to get away on this narrow trail I fell to the right ](*,) which really aggravated the rattler over in the bush; not sure which bush. Mended my torn finger as the sweat was dripping from my head; don't know if this Flying HAZ hat causes that all though I heat up pretty fast. I had to get my poles out again too since I was struggling.

And as I finally crossed under the fence gate and was heading down the hill I got buzzed again, by HAZel. Of course, I am looking around not realizing at first it was HAZel :? . And now all of a sudden there are throngs of people coming up this trail; some looked more capable than others and I let them know it was pretty rocky on the other side for about 1/2 mile. Another group asked if the trail looped and I said yes, it was another 3 1/2 or more miles and not the easiest for awhile.

As I finished this downhill section where you cross the drainage I remembered this is the spot where my brothers and I stopped back in 2008 to goof around and take pictures. I'm going thru my brothers xHD and see that he had saved those (We did at least 10 hikes in Spur Cross). Anyway I sure was glad to finally see the corral. I was delighted to see water in the creek, flowing water. Not a lot but water :) . The path on the other side is well worn now too and much wider. I got my umbrella out, re-fixed my bleeding finger and marched on my way as it seemed to be getting even warmer. This should be a piece of cake for me so I was quite aggravated.

A little later I pulled over into the minuscule of shade at the dry creek before the road starts again and put my poles away. At Cave Creek I saw the vortex of cairns, took a picture and then headed up the hill to where the Metate Trail starts. There is a nice bench there so I took advantage. And then thru Cottonwood Wash as I started seeing more and more tourists.

At the make-shift VC the resident rattler was showing off so I came over and watched for about 10 minutes and took a couple lousy pictures; didn't realize what a fright I must have looked like as my mascara and dirt were all over my face... oh well. Yep, a rough day for me. Gonna take the prescribed puffer with me next time to see if that helps.

1 poppy, some hedgehog
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Spur-Lime-Elephant-Dragonfly Loop
Led a meetup group out of Spur Cross of 26 hike minded individuals. Took Spur Cross trail north out of the park to the Limestone trail #252 in the Tonto. Followed Limestone its entire length to Elephant Mountain. Limestone was in much better shape than I was expecting and fairly easy to follow. Just one spot we wandered off track a bit. Up and over Elephant mountain saddle down to Spur Cross again. Took Dragonfly down to Jewel of the Creek, not much going on there but a pleasant end to a long hike. For such a large group we made great time and didn't spread too far apart.
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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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.
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Just a great day to be in Spur Cross. I made a wrong turn on this hike and well it may have added to it. Because of my wrong turn at the Spur Cross/Rondo springs marker I had extra time so with that I added a few more trails.
Those trails being Metate and Towhee trails. And really if not for that wrong turn I would have probably ever hike those two trails. So in away I am glad I made that wrong turn. They weather was perfect and we really hade the trails to our selves at least 90% of the time.
Just a really great day to be hiking out here.
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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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?
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Hiked the Elephant Mountain loop from Spur Cross with my hiking buddies Tricia and Christina. Ran up to the Limestone Trail in the Tonto NF and took that west to connect to the Elephant Mountain Trail. Returned to the lot via Dragonfly. Nobody up in the Tonto, a fair amount of hikers on Elephant Mountain and Maricopa Trail. Masses of people on the Dragonfly trail and Jewel of the Creek.
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Can't believe its mid May! About 50 when we started and 60 at the end :) At lunch the breeze picked up and the sun went behind a cloud and we both felt chilly so we set off moving again :lol:

Spur Cross :next: Metate :next: Spur Cross trail :next: Limestone trail :next: Elephant Mountain trail :next: Tortuga :next: Maricopa trail :next: Dragonfly :next: Spur Cross
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Snow Spur
Had to get out and play in the snow today, and in order to keep my secure lead in yearly mileage over some competitors, I decided to invite them along to make sure they didn't try anything crazy today.

Unfortunately Lee had a stage-5 clinger at home this morning and wasn't able to join us on time. :roll:

It was 41 at the trailhead and raining lightly. Not more than 10 minutes into the hike, the rain began to mix with snow, and was all snow by 2500 feet. Our initial plan was an attempt on Black Mesa, but we concluded that staying a bit lower would be a better option, so we opted for an Elephant loop.

Of course we didn't have the map or tracks for that, and the snow made it very difficult to follow a trail. Eventually 9L just refused to go any farther on this magnificent day, and I was forced to retreat to lower elevations. I got a good signal and downloaded a handful of tracks from HAZTracks, so that was helpful.

Lee was somewhere below and we attempted to figure out via text where to meet, but that never materialized.

The rain and snow let up for a while, and the hike back down to the truck was mostly just muddy with some light drizzle.

I still don't understand why so few people want to get out and enjoy the desert on these rare days! Oh well. More for me! :y:

A few seconds of snow in the desert:
Limestone Trail #252 - Spur Cross
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Spur Cross Live Nativity Loop
Despite the no- :pk: disclaimer, when Lee texted me and asked if I wanted to go on sunset hike, I was a little :scared: . So I brought Clairebear along too! :)

The plan was to enjoy the scenery in Spur Cross before checking out the amazing 62nd annual live Nativity performance at the Conservation Area.*

The road was lined with paper bags on fire, and we drove over as many as we could to try to prevent any catastrophic wildfire in the desert. Some nice ladies from church yelled at us saying things that probably aren't biblically approved. :oops:

After a nice loop in the mountains, we returned to the trailhead in the dark like three wisemen with headlamps. I strolled up on Mary and curiously questioned her virgin status while Blanco and Cup harrassed the sheep. Apparently fotg had forgotten the leashes again. ](*,)

Most of the folks were drinking coffee and hot cider, but nobody really looked at me too strangely as I sauntered through with a Devil's Ale in my hand. I grabbed a few photos before heading back to the truck where I heard something about kidnapping some kid in swaddling clothes. [-X

On the drive out, we nearly killed three kings on horseback. That woulda probably ruined the night for Bob Hutson, the soothing voice who was emceeing the whole event.

Despite the distractions of the season, it's a pretty nice area that I'd never been to before. Perhaps we'll have to come back next year!

: rein :

*Portions of this tale may be fictionalized.

Cottonwoods just beginning to turn in Cave Creek

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
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Spur Cross Trailhead
I-17 North & Exit 233, which is SR-74 the Carefree Highway. Head east on Carefree Highway 9.9 miles to Cave Creek Road. Head North on Cave Creek Road 2.6 miles to Spur Cross Ranch Road. The road jogs a bit here but you go 4.0 miles to the parking lot.

It is a well-graded dirt road. As it nears the parking area, the road leads past a large green house, through a tall gatepost and past a corral. There is a large signed parking area. Along the road about 75 yards northeast of the parking area, there is a self-pay station and a small informational kiosk with rudimentary maps. Pay the fee and carry the stub with you.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 35.8 mi - about 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 144 mi - about 2 hours 26 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 133 mi - about 2 hours 10 mins
page created by kingsnake on Dec 14 2012 6:44 am
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