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Sugarloaf Mountain - Spur Cross, AZ

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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Loop 7.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,350 feet
Elevation Gain 1,530 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.2
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
29  2021-01-01 DixieFlyer
Author DixieFlyer
author avatar Guides 58
Routes 525
Photos 7,282
Trips 478 map ( 5,895 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Fountain Hills, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:35am - 7:33pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2005 Cave Creek Complex169.4 mi*

A Loaf of Sugar is better than a Basket of Bread
by DixieFlyer

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Sugarloaf Mountain (elevation of 3,879 feet and prominence of 499 feet) is in the Tonto National Forest, just outside the boundary of the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.

The hike to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain involves some onerous bushwhacking, and it isn't for everybody. I basically followed a route that HAZ user @hansenaz posted on his ascent of Sugarloaf Mountain to get to the summit.

The hike starts easily enough -- from the TH, take the Spur Cross Trail to the Tortuga Trail to the Elephant Mountain Trail. So far, so good. A short distance after getting on the Elephant Mountain Trail, the trail will turn to the left. Instead of taking the left turn, continue straight on a use trail. This trail will run into the Limestone Trail, which you will take to the left. You won't go far on the Limestone Trail, and then you'll veer to the right on a use trail. This use-trail is well-cairned, and you will follow it to Peterson Spring.

Past the spring, the trail ends, and you'll be bushwhacking your way up to a ridgeline northwest of Sugarloaf Mountain. On your way to the ridgeline, you'll have to go down and back up a couple of ravines, which is a bit onerous. Once on the ridgeline, it is a steep climb up toward the Sugarloaf Mountain summit. You'll see an intimidating summit block ahead of you. Fortunately, this is a false summit, and you'll go to the left of it rather than climbing over it. Once you get around the false summit, you'll see a ridgeline that will take you to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

You will see a large summit cairn that marks the highpoint. The summit area is relatively flat, and to be sure that I bagged the highpoint, I walked over to a couple of other places that might have been the highpoint.

You have several choices to make on the descent. You could go back the way that you came, but that did not excite me too much. I noticed that @hansenaz descended on the south side of the mountain, but that route looked steeper than what I desired. Instead, I decided to go back north a short distance from the summit and then descend the mountain's east side. The descent wasn't too steep, but it wasn't exactly a bundle of joy. I made my way east, and then bushwhacked my way southeast and hit the Limestone Trail #252 right at the Limestone Spring spring box. This route wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't the most outstanding hiking experience that I have ever had.

Once on the Limestone Trail, it was an easy hike back to the Spur Cross Trail, which I took back to the TH.

Sugarloaf Mountain has some nice views at the summit, but this is not a hike that I will want to do over and over again. It might be one and done for me.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2021-01-01 DixieFlyer
    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 $$
    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 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 DixieFlyer on Jan 01 2021 6:36 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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