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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop, AZ

no permit
937 151 2
Guide 151 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.6 of 5 by 60
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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 1,120 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.5
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
7  2019-01-21 mazatzal
11  2018-11-30 KBKB
27  2018-03-15 RowdyandMe
14  2017-11-12 Yoder
10  2017-08-20 ultrazona
28  2017-04-07 kingsnake
2  2017-03-26 Bradshaws
10  2017-03-10 jochal
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 9
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  7:30am - 5:49pm
Route Scout App
Official Route
2 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
Cave Creek #4 to Spur Cross TH
Cave Creek #4 to Spur Cross TH
0.0 mi away
12.5 mi
1,700 ft
Seven Springs Inner Loop
Seven Springs Inner Loop
0.0 mi away
14.0 mi
3,150 ft
Cottonwood Trail #247
0.7 mi away
10.2 mi
1,413 ft
Skunk Tank Trail #246
1.9 mi away
4.8 mi
1,482 ft
Lime Creek Cabin - Tonto NF
Lime Creek Cabin - Tonto NF
2.2 mi away
9.7 mi
2,473 ft
Quien Sabe Peak
Quien Sabe Peak
2.6 mi away
5.7 mi
2,069 ft
Monument Mountain - Cooks Mesa Quad
Monument Mountain - Cooks Mesa Quad
3.2 mi away
2.0 mi
1,112 ft
China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
3.2 mi away
3.7 mi
1,000 ft
Quien Sabe Trail #250
3.5 mi away
2.5 mi
653 ft
Bronco TH to Bartlett Dam RD - Maricopa Trail
Bronco TH to Bartlett Dam RD - Maricopa Trail
3.7 mi away
12.5 mi
1,768 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Lots of Water & Great Views!
by landsinaz & HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
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. Lots of birds in this area, and although we didn't see much wild life, 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 is 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. On the bright side, there are some really great views looking back down the valley and north to the plateaus. Just prior to 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 remains of the mine 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.

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.

landsinaz & HAZ_Hikebot
  • book
    area related
  • 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 $$

Map Drive
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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