Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop, AZ | HikeArizona

Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop, AZ

Guide 163 Triplogs Mine 0 2 Topics
3.6 of 5 
no permit
1k 163 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 9.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,364 feet
Elevation Gain 750 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,905 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.43
 Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
unreported if dogs are allowed
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6  2022-02-13 gummo
24  2021-12-10 johnmc22
2  2021-09-11 GrangerGuy
9  2021-02-06 AdventureFridays
15  2021-01-31 astrobrewer
25  2021-01-26
Cave Creek Trail #4
6  2020-12-18 muskybankr
15  2019-10-19 DarthStiller
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author avatar Guides 4
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 31 map ( 194 miles )
Age 54 Female Gender
Location Apache Junction, AZ
co-author avatarGuides 16,882
Routes 17,256
Photos 24
Trips 1 map (6 Miles)
Age 26 Male Gender
Location HAZ, TrailDEX
Associated Areas
list map done
Phoenix Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  7:31am - 5:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2005 Cave Creek Complex169.4 mi*
Nearby Area Water
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Lots of Water & Great Views!
by landsinaz & HAZ_Hikebot

This is a great day hike for when you don't have time to get out of the Phoenix area! It starts out paralleling a picnic area and campgrounds running along Cave Creek. In about 0.5 miles, you pass a private ranch, and then it gets much better. For the first mile or so, this is a level hike following along the creek. This is a multi-use trail for horses and mountain bikes as well, but we never saw any. Many birds in this area, and although we didn't see much wildlife, it's a perfect area for it.

Around 1.9 miles, the trail turns away from the creek for 0.9 mi and then drops into a canyon @ 2.75 mi. There are lots of pools and rocks until 4.1 miles. It was hard to find a good lunch spot because this is the kind of trail you want to keep following to see what's next. Along the way, be on the lookout for a terrific specimen of a crowned saguaro--easy to miss when your eyes are fixed on the stream bed and the water. At 4.3 miles, you can continue following the Cave Creek Trail, which runs about 5+ miles further. You can go back the way you came or take the Skunk Tank Trail #246 to make the loop. (The Cave Creek Trail ends at FR 48, just north of the town of Cave Creek)

Up to now, this trail is easy. The Skunk Tank portion makes this a whole lot tougher. Taking this trail, you get to go up for approximately 1100 feet in the next 2.4 miles. Even with lots of switchbacks, this is a big climb, with lots of little elevation changes and loose footing. There are some really great views on the bright side, looking back down the valley and north to the plateaus. Just before the summit, you will pass Skunk Tank, which was full of water on this trip, but really looks like a cattle pond. You pass through a gate here and continue up a little more.

At the high point, there is a sign pointing right for Quien Sabe Trail. Continue left on #246. At this point, the trail follows an old mining road, and while wide, the footing is pretty loose. Between 7 and 8 miles in, you can see the mine's remains off the hill to the right.

The Cave Creek portion of the trail is the easiest and most scenic, but for those of us who prefer loop trails, this was a great one. We saw 5 other groups of people, all near the creek around mile 2, but had the world to ourselves the rest of the time. (Although I am sure it gets much more crowded as the weather warms up.)

We found this trail in 100 Hikes in Arizona.

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.

2002-01-20 landsinaz & HAZ_Hikebot
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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 $$

FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Cave Creek Seven Springs Trailhead
Cave Creek TH in the Seven Springs Campground area.

From the intersection of Tom Darlington Rd and Cave Creek Rd, travel East on Cave Creek Rd. At 2.2 miles you pass Pima Rd. Continue on Cave Creek Rd and at 6.3 miles you reach Bartlett Dam Rd. Follow sign to Seven Springs Rd. At 9.1 miles you pass the Sears Kay Ruins. The pavement ends at 10.8 miles. You pass the Bronco TH at 13.8 miles and the road is now marked Forest Road 24. At 17.6 miles you pass a private ranch. At 17.9 miles you pass the Seven Springs Campground and the Cave Creek TH is on your left at 18.5 miles.

2012-03-07 Nahimana222 writes: From the signs I saw at the trailhead, you need a Tonto Pass to park.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 51.5 mi - about 1 hour 36 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 153 mi - about 2 hours 57 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 127 mi - about 2 hours 38 mins

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