Find
Map
Post
Find
Aa
username
X
password
register help
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop, AZ
details
drive
no permit
forecast
route
stats
868
140
1
active
topic
nearby
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 .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.


After the first 1.5 miles, the trail turns away from the creek, just for a short time, and then drops into a canyon. There are lots of pools and rocks for the next 2 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. Around mile 3 there is a terrific specimin of a crowned saguaro--easy to miss when your eyes are fixed on the stream bed and the water. At 3.6 miles you can continue following the Cave Creek Trail which runs about 6 miles further, you can go out the way you came, or you can take the Skunk Tank Trail to make a big loop. (The Cave Creek Trail is supposed to end 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 1000 feet in the next 1.5 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 summit, there is a sign pointing to either Quin Sabe/ Skull Mesa or to the Cottonwood Trail which drops down to the right as you face the sign. Take the Cottonwood Trail. 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 left.

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, which shows mileage as 8 roundtrip. The Skunk Tank turnoff is shown at 3 miles. On our GPS, it was just about 3.6. The sign at the trail head show that it is 5.5 miles back to the Cave Creek Trail head. This description is based on our GPS readings. Total hiking time was 4 hours, 50 minutes, not including lunch and creek exploring breaks.
Description 140 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 34
 Region
 
0
0
 Phoenix NE
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
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
Author landsinaz
Descriptions 4
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 31 map ( 194 miles )
Age 48
Location Apache Junction, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
28  2017-04-07 kingsnake
2  2017-03-26 Bradshaws
10  2017-03-10 jochal
9  2017-01-17 survivordude
3  2017-01-06 friendofThunderg
17  2016-10-15 Nightstalker
10  2016-02-20 bendorbreak
17  2015-12-06
Quien Sabe Peak
friendofThunderg
7  2015-11-28 hikerdw
10  2015-11-22 mazatzal
4  2015-11-21 friendofThunderg
6  2015-11-20 Tough_Boots
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Forest Tonto
Backpack   Yes
Preferred   Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:19am - 7:30pm
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Route Scout
import queue
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Cave Creek #4 to Spur Cross TH
0.0 mi away
12.5 mi
1,700 ft
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
2.2 mi away
9.7 mi
2,473 ft
Quien Sabe Peak
2.6 mi away
5.7 mi
2,069 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Arizona Black Rattlesnake
Canyon Tree Frog
Cardinal
Carpenter Bee
Cassin's Kingbird
Common Black-Hawk
Desert Tortoise
Flower Crab Spider
Funnel-web Spider
Honey Bee
Hooded Oriole
Horned Lizard
Javelina
Queen Butterfly
Tarantula
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
White Tailed Deer
Flora
African Daisy
Antelope Horns
Arizona Grape
Arizona Lupine
Arizona Penstemon
Arizona Sycamore
Astragalus
Barestem Larkspur
Barrel Cactus
Bastard Toadflax
Blackfoot Daisy
Blue Dicks
Bluestem Pricklepoppy
Brittlebush
Broad-Leaved Gilia
Canaigre
Cattails
Chia
Desert Anemone
Desert ceanothus
Desert Chicory
Desert Evening Primrose
Desert Globemallow
Desert Marigold
Desert Mariposa
Dudleya
Fairy Duster
Field Bindweed
Flat Top Buckwheat
Fleabane
Four O'Clock
Fremont Barberry
Fremont Cottonwood
Gooding's Verbena
Hedgehog Cactus
Indian Paintbrush
Mexican Gold Poppy
Mexican Vervain
Microseris
Mock-Pennyroyal
New Mexico Thistle
Nodding Onion
Owl Clover
Parry's Penstemon
Pink Penstemon
Prickly Pear
Purple Nightshade
Ragwort
Red Maids
Rough Prickly Poppy
Sacred Datura
Saguaro
Saguaro - Crested
Seep monkeyflower
Sida
Silverleaf Nightshade
Silverstem Lupine
Skunkbush
Spreading Fleabane
Strawberry Hedgehog
Trailing Four O'Clock
Tufted Evening Primrose
Unidentified Flora
Unidentified Lupine
Velvet Ash
White Primrose
Woolly Paintbrush
Yellow Columbine
Yellow Salsify
Meteorology
Forecast
Frost
Named place
Cave Creek
Cramm Mountain
Humboldt Mountain
New River Mesa
New River Mountains
Quien Sabe Spring
Seven Springs Wash
Skunk Tank
Culture
Cactuscat Pose
Inscriptions
Miscellaneous Survey Marker
Old Rusty Stuff
Trail Signs and Markings
Trash Hauled Out
Lots of Water & Great Views!
by landsinaz

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 .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.


After the first 1.5 miles, the trail turns away from the creek, just for a short time, and then drops into a canyon. There are lots of pools and rocks for the next 2 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. Around mile 3 there is a terrific specimin of a crowned saguaro--easy to miss when your eyes are fixed on the stream bed and the water. At 3.6 miles you can continue following the Cave Creek Trail which runs about 6 miles further, you can go out the way you came, or you can take the Skunk Tank Trail to make a big loop. (The Cave Creek Trail is supposed to end 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 1000 feet in the next 1.5 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 summit, there is a sign pointing to either Quin Sabe/ Skull Mesa or to the Cottonwood Trail which drops down to the right as you face the sign. Take the Cottonwood Trail. 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 left.

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, which shows mileage as 8 roundtrip. The Skunk Tank turnoff is shown at 3 miles. On our GPS, it was just about 3.6. The sign at the trail head show that it is 5.5 miles back to the Cave Creek Trail head. This description is based on our GPS readings. Total hiking time was 4 hours, 50 minutes, not including lunch and creek exploring breaks.
© 2002 - 2017 hikearizona.com

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.

-
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 $$
None


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
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
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
stay out of the scorching sun
prehydrate & stay hydrated
About
FAQ
contact
Shop
© 2017 HAZ