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Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross, AZ

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Guide 14 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.9 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 24.52 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,343 feet
Elevation Gain 1,532 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,950 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 44.27
Interest Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2017-01-24 arizona_water
15  2015-01-31
Skull Mesa Loop
4  2015-01-21 JuanJaimeiii
32  2015-01-11
Skull Mesa from Spur Cross TH
4  2015-01-01 toddak
15  2014-03-20 rehlers
9  2013-12-15 JuanJaimeiii
33  2013-04-13 Droog
Page 1,  2
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
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
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Geology Nearby
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Author Full Detail Guide
Overview: This is a nice, long desert loop through the desert hills of the Cave Creek area linking together the Cave Creek Trail #4 and Cottonwood Trail #247, starting from the Spur Cross Trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

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

    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 Triplog Reviews
    Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After work Trail run - turned hike. Cave creek was raging. So cool!
    Crossing cave creek is not possible without getting your feet wet. The water is cold, but not too bad. Several of the eastern side canyons have some small flows that confluence with Cave Creek about 1.5 miles upstream of the parking area.

    I looked for a dry fall I had seen on the topo but I forgot to preload the map and there's wasn't any cell reception, so I just explored along the creek for awhile. It started raining as I ran back to the trailhead at sunset.

    This was my first time to Spur Cross, and I definitely plan on returning!
    Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Skull Mesa Loop
    It's been far too long since I've hiked out of Spur Cross. Especially since I live so close to it. There was a 70% chance of rain on the day, and with rain for two days previous, Cave Creek was sure to be running decently.

    7:30 in the morning, and we were the first vehicle in the lot. We kept our feet dry by rock hopping the 1st and 4th crossings and going off trail to bypass crossings 2,3 5 and 6. I'd forgotten how steep it was in sections of Cottonwood #247 trail, just to get to the steeper Skull Mesa #248 trail. It was a temperate 55 degrees, but I was wringing wet and glasses fogging up from all the humidity.

    Once on top of Skull Mesa, we made our way on the Skull Mesa "Trail" to the east side. The western portion is cairned and easy to follow. The eastern portion, not much to follow there. Still the rain held off, but we had periods of fog on top, and then rising fog from below as we started down.
    35 seconds of sheer excitement :next:
    The top of the mesa was pretty muddy, our shoes picking up extra weight along the way.

    On the Quien Sabe #250, we decided to take a short cut to Cave Creek #4 down a wash. There some sweet geology and flora along the way. On Cave Creek #4, we got our first sprinkles of the day. Not enough to to put on the coat or break out the chrome dome.

    We cut off Cave Creek #4, down to the 6L ranch area, on a spur trail. I'd never been here or read too much about the area. This is a nice area the I need to come back and check out. We stumbled upon some Glymps and Metates and it looks like there much more to see here.

    Getting back from here was easier, since we no longer had to try and keep our feet dry, we just walked on through all the creek crossings

    The Metate Trail and Towhee Trail are always fun to hit when in the area. Some of the biggest Saguaros in the state, mixed with all sorts of greenery
    Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Great loop of Sonoran Desert. We went counterclockwise from a spur Cross to Seven Springs and continued a few miles before we made camp for the night. The Cottonwood side was pretty dry, and we took care of most of our elevation on the first day. Good camp spot not far from the creek, plenty of water to filter for drinking and cooking. The next morning we broke camp after breakfast and trudged our way back to the truck. Arizona flora was on full display, I don't think I have ever seen so many blooming plants out in the desert. The only downside to this trip is the almost complete lack of shade, you can really tell that this area is still recovering from the fires 10 years ago. I would gladly do this one again!
    Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop via Spur Cross
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The overnight trip begins at 8amish in the parking lot of Spur Cross. The beginning of the hike started like pretty much all other except for the 30lbs on my back. The creek was flowing and everything was well. With the running stream we were confident that there would be plenty of places to refill along the way. We decided to skirt around the front side of Skull Mesa around the east side. The wild flowers were blooming all over. While it was only 85 outside the unrelenting sun took its toll rather quickly. We each burned through 3 liters of water before we made it to the east side of Skull Mesa. Luckily we found a small trickle of water at the second pool of Cottonwood Spring. Enough to be moving and sink our pumps. This water had to last as it did not look like we would get another chance until we got closer to seven springs. After we got water there was another good elevation push. From what I looked at online I knew it was mostly down hill from here and it was. The trail crossed over the dry creek bed several times after we veered to the north. This leg was much more easy going. At one point we did come to a cross road, up the hill or continue the creek bed. Well the creek bed seemed like a good idea all the way until we slammed right into private property. We lucked out and the ranchers were out and allowed us to cut through their property to the number 4 trail. I'm not sure if we shaved any distance off but I would recommend staying on the trail because the next group may not be as welcomed. Once we were on the number 4 we knew we were close to where we wanted to camp. A little over 15 miles into the trip we re-upped on water just to be sure one more time. A few yards more and we found a great camp spot. We found a scorpion trying to get warm by the fire. He was not aware of what caliber of people were camping. He was promptly charred and eaten. "Nutty" is the answer. Once huddled into our tents it felt like I had packed just the right amount of gear. At 2am I was cold. I no longer had good feelings about leaving my hoodie at home. The REI 1.5 mat however was the best decision ever. What a great bargain and comfortable enough to sleep on my side.

    On the second morning at 8am it was good to know we had under 10 miles to go. Breakfast was good, water was replenished and the camp was left like we were never there. I had high hopes that we would be closer to the water and have some shade on the way out. This was not the case. The shade quickly disappeared again to a very rocky and uncovered trek. Beautiful scenery and many more places to explore along the way. There was one point along the second day that we popped up a few hundred feet in a very short distance. This did not feel pretty on feet but when it was done was almost all of the elevation we would experience and now it was only 5 miles of down hill. When we finally made it off trail around 1:30pm we were beat but happy.

    There were flowers sprouting everywhere.

    Permit $$
    Spur Cross Conservation Area $3 per person

    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 fricknaley on Jan 09 2013 8:42 pm
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