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Skull Mesa Highpoint, AZ

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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,229 feet
Elevation Gain 267 feet
Accumulated Gain 350 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.75 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.47
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
3  2021-01-16
Skull Mesa from Spur Cross TH
hikerdw
30  2021-01-11 DixieFlyer
Author DixieFlyer
author avatar Guides 58
Routes 528
Photos 7,311
Trips 481 map ( 5,935 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Fountain Hills, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:38am - 7:30pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2019 River Fire7.9k
🔥 2005 Cave Creek Complex169.4 mi*
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles


Digging up Bones
by DixieFlyer

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Overview
Skull Mesa (elevation of 4,595 feet and prominence of 555 feet) is a prominent landmark in the Tonto National Forest near Cave Creek. This guide documents the Mesa's highpoint, which is 1.3 miles east of and over 350 feet higher than the popular overlook on the SW side of the Mesa.


Hike
For putposes of this guide, the hike to the Skull Mesa Highpoint is a one-way hike starting at the Skull Mesa Overlook on the SW side of the Mesa. While there are several ways to hike to the overlook, the most common is to start from the Spur Cross Ranch TH and hike on Skull Mesa Trail #248 to get to the overlook. Note that there is a per person fee if you start the hike from the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.

From the overlook, the author of this guide went off-trail (mostly heading east) to get to the Skull Mesa Highpoint. It is reasonably easy off-trail, despite hiking through some knee-high grass with some ankle-busting rocks and prickly pear cactus lurking underneath the grass. Game-trails can be followed in places, and if you are careful, you can come through the off-trail hike unscathed. It is a gentle uphill grade most of the way to the highpoint, and you'll be so focused on avoiding the prickly pear that you will hardly notice that you are going uphill.

The highpoint is near some large rocks that are at or very, very near these coordinates: 33.92639, -111.90491

The rocks provide a convenient place to sit down and enjoy the views and bask in the glory of attaining the Skull Mesa Highpoint.

Note that you might be able to follow Skull Mesa Trail #248 from near the overlook to the highpoint. However, this would be a longer route, and this trail may not be easy to follow up on the mesa, so taking it might not be any better than merely going off-trail in a more direct route.

When leaving the highpoint, you can either go back the way that you came or spend some time on the mesa exploring some of the Indian ruins that are on the mesa.

Note
Link to this guide only if you go to the highpoint of Skull Mesa.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2021-01-12 DixieFlyer

    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.

    Permit $$
    information is in description


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    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 12 2021 8:53 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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