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Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek, AZ

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480 34 1
Guide 34 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
Rated
3.8
3.8 of 5 by 13
 
6
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 9.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,352 feet
Elevation Gain 900 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.9
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
13  2019-02-13
Cottonwood Trail #247
LosDosSloFolks
25  2018-03-17
Skull Mesa Ruins
Nightstalker
13  2018-03-02 kingsnake
10  2018-01-20
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus
The_Eagle
13  2018-01-20
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus
joebartels
5  2018-01-07 BiFrost
31  2016-02-25 RowdyandMe
12  2016-02-13
Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Creek Loop
rcorfman
Page 1,  2,  3
Author gpsjoe
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 123
Photos 2,810
Trips 140 map ( 1,516 miles )
Age 77 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
 
8 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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A neat stroll in the desert !!
by gpsjoe

2018 Notice
The 247A portion of this hike is now signed closed on the Spur Cross side. The trail is still in good shape and appears currently used. To be legal you will need to hike to the Tonto Forest boundary then over.
If you can read a map you will see it's a slight adjustment. If you can not figure it out then this hike is not currently for you.


The Spur Cross and neighboring Cave Creek trail systems offer great hiking in mountainous terrain featuring some creeks and streams and all the varieties of low desert vegetation you can imagine. The trails are reasonably close to home for those in the Phoenix metro area. Winter and maybe late fall and early spring are the preferred seasons for hiking this area. It is just too hot at other times.

The Cottonwood Spring Loop is a moderate 9.4 miles consisting of 2 miles of out and back hiking plus 7.4 miles of true loop. From the Spur Cross trailhead we hike the dirt roads (Spur Cross trail) 1.25 miles to the signed Forest Service boundary. Then continue straight for another mile crossing Cave creek several times to the signed Skull Mesa trailhead. Continue 500 feet then turn right onto the signed Cottonwood trail 247 and hike 3.1 miles (0.5 miles past the intersection of Cottonwood and Skull Mesa trails) to Cottonwood Spring. There we turn right onto the unsigned unofficial trail 247A and hike it 2.9 miles to the Spur Cross trail which we hike a mile back to the parking lot. I include some pictures at Cottonwood Spring that should help in identifying trail 247A. I found 247A by accident when I made a mistake on a previous hike of the Skull Mesa -Cottonwood Creek Loop. But here is how you might use this route to create options for doing that loop.

Using 247A in the Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Creek Loop
Standard Route - 17.8 miles with 10 miles out and back plus a 7.8 mile true loop.

Option 1 fewest miles - At one mile from the parking lot use Unofficial Trail 247A out and back. This results in 7.8 miles of out and back hiking plus a 7.8 mile true loop. Total miles is 15.6

Option 2 Maximum true loop - Hike standard route 5 miles to the intersection of Skull Mesa and Cottonwood trails then hike the entire Skull Mesa trail and turn right on the Cottonwood trail and take it to Unofficial Trail 247A (at the Cottonwood Spring with the post with 247 on it). Take 247A back to your car. This has only 2 miles of out and back and 14.2 miles of true loop for a total of 16.2 miles. This is my personal favorite.

In his two trip reports, Al_HikesAZ mentions the tricky navigation on the Skull Mesa trail between the Cottonwood and Quien Sabe trails and I will confirm that and urge use of a GPS with the track file loaded for this piece of about 2 miles in length.

There are GPS track files posted for the Cottonwood Spring Loop (includes 247A), the original Skull Mesa & Cottonwood Creek Loop, Option1, Option 2 and separately for the mostly unknown trail 247A as well. For a moderate hike do the 9.4 mile Cottonwood Spring loop (AEG about 1,900 feet). For a strenuous hike I recommend the 16.2 mile Option 2 (AEG about 3,500 feet plus) but be aware of difficult navigation in the section mentioned above. You can compare all four loops in this graphic.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2010-02-01 gpsjoe
  • guide related image
    guide related
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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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I hiked the loop clockwise.

I saw two deer near the FR 48 corral, three javelina above Cottonwood Spring, and zero snakes — which is a rarity as the Spur Cross area is riddled with rattlers. 🐍

There’s been a fair amount of recent trail maintenance on Cottonwood Trail #247: Grass trimmed, palo verde cut back, tread scrapped, diversions around eroded sections, and even several switchbacked reroutes (one a quarter mile of new trail).

I’ve spotted at least four crested saguaro in the Spur Cross area, including two today. The first crested saguaro I saw today was 4.7 miles into the hike, while crossing a wash just below the counterweighted gate. I’ve been by that spot twice and never noticed it before. (The price I pay for keeping my eyes down, looking for snakes.)

Cottonwood Spring had puddles, and maybe a slight trickle. It was as shady as ever, and the hanging coffee can was still there. That thing might predate Arizona’s statehood. 😁

I was going to take a break in the Cottonwood Spring oasis, but forgot because I was so into shooting my hiking video 📽: [ youtube video ] .

After relaxing at Cottonwood Spring, my recommendation is that you head back the way you came: Trail #247A is rocky, and overgrown with brush. It’s obvious no maintenance has been done on it in years. When Trail #247A hit the private property fence, it disappeared. I don't remember that happening in 2012: [ photoset ] . Not feeling like heading 6.5 miles back the way I came, I began bushwhacking along the fence line, heading down into washes, then up over ridges.

Just over the first ridge, I discovered my second crested saguaro of the day. :y:

After a mile of bushwhacking, I connected back up with what I believed to be Trail #247A. Subsequent sat view analysis shows the trail I got on heads northeast, to connect with Cottonwood Trail #247 near Rock Tank Spring, not east towards Trail #247A at the “do not enter” signs.

Etc, etc, back to the trailhead.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus
This was plan B for the day.
Some of my relatives had the first area closed because they needed some "Privacy" while making little Eagles.

So after some conversation, we headed over to Spur Cross and did this loop.

Temps dropped a bit during the hike and we got a steady drizzle starting around 9:15, but we never got the 30mph gusts that were forecast. This is an enjoyable loop on some new sections of trail for me. Cottonwood Spring (the southwestern most, there are 3 in the area) had plenty of water to filter from. There was some plastic pipe, a shovel and pitch fork in the area also.

We hopped into Cottonwood Creek (Dry) for some splorin'. There were a couple of interesting rocky areas. We decided to go up to the next Cottonwood Spring. There was no sign of a spring that we found, but we caught the Cottonwood #247 here to turn around.

Ran into a a couple of other hikers out there prior to hitting the Metate Trail to check out the Huge Saguaros.


Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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What a beautiful for a hike. This was my first time doing this hike and I looked up a few gps routes for this one and I have to say I like GPS Joes the best and that's what I used.
I crossed Cottonwood Creek six times and Rowdy walked across in the water six times. Lot of great views out here and lots of green grass growing. I really did not see much as in birds or lizards but lots of bees.
I did encounter a really nice Crested Saguaro on this hike.
I remember telling Linda how I have never seen a Javelina before until my last hike a Chalk Canyon. Well do today I got the :pk: scared out of me. Rowdy and I were about 2.5 miles from the trailhead heading back. It was really quiet and peaceful and as we were walking all at once the bush right next to us something jumped out and dirt was flying everywhere. I wasn't sure what it was other than it was big and made the ground shake. We hiked a few feet more and all over again it happened. We had Javelinas all around us and Rowdy was ready to get one. I called him back and he stayed next to me I counted 7 but I know I miss a few. I am guessing at least a dozen including babies.

I knew it would be warm out today so I carried all the water and put Rowdy's cooling jacket on him and it made a big difference.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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Cottonwood Elephant Loop
Nice loop hike with some decent AEG. We started early at 6:30. All the trails we hiked on were in great shape and easy to follow. Had lunch near Limestone Spring, which also had a lot of bees nearby so we kept our distance as to not disturb. It started to warm up in the early afternoon so the short hike on Dragonfly Trail along the tree lined creek provided some welcomed shade.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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While Karl was away on the MotherLode, Kathy wanted to do a little something; probably so she wouldn't have to stay home and worry. There were lots of choices but we opted for Spur Cross. It was somewhat sunny when we left my house but as we drove toward Cave Creek the cloud cover got lower and even more so once we hit the TH. And yep, it was cold. We donned our hat and gloves, gave our entrance fee to the volunteers and headed on out.

At first I thot I had taken the wrong road as it's been awhile since I've been on this road, but I was correct. It was muddy in areas so we had to walk lightly. The cloud cover made for some interesting morning photos and it seemed quite dreary really. Haven't used the word dreary in quite some time so I had to look it up to make sure I spelled it right. As we crossed Cottonwood Wash, we heard coyotes so we stopped to listen and I actually got their voices recorded :) (see video 1). I decided we should hike this clockwise because I at least knew we could find the signage to turn at 247 but had no idea where 247a came out at; however, I was constantly curious as to where it came back to the Spur Cross Road.

We continued our hike along the dry Cave Creek. Not one crossing with water. And that last crossing before heading toward the horse corral area was as flat as a pancake. No rocks or shrubbery or anything :o in Cave Creek. It was quite bizarre to me. I had never hiked the area when there wasn't any water in the creek. After the horse corral it was all new territory to me. We were following along what they called FS 48. Very shortly after the corral area, I spotted the Skull Mesa TH sign across the creek.

It was interpreting the sign that presented a problem. The hike desc says go straight but straight on the sign shows further up 48 and then hang a right. For clarification, at the sign, straight is east, altho we got a nice picture as we went up 48 for just a bit ;) . And 500 feet later you hit the intersection with 247. FYI Bruce, I did employ Scout II for assistance. The sign there says 2 miles to Cottonwood Spring but we would learn that meant 2 miles to the place where they decided to put the sign for Cottonwood Spring (which was another mile to go from there).

First, the trail condition is really super. There really is only one section between Skull Mesa intersection and heading down toward Cottonwood Spring that is like hiking on parts of the 252 over in Spur Cross where it's hard to see where the trail goes and it's a bit rocky. And there are parts going on 247a where the trail is a bit faint and rocky as well. However, for the steeper hills, the trail is a pleasant surprise.
Second, this is some roller coaster ride of a hike. The first section is where you get the most thrills going up the bigger hills :sweat: and the back section is the smaller hills. But it is a constant up and down pretty much the whole way.
Third, you cross through several fenced areas.
Fourth, there are many, many saguaros and many, many huge sagauros.

Today views of Skull Mesa and New River Mesa would come in and out of the clouds. Oh, and if you think you know where the trail might be going, we found ourselves wrong on our guesses a few times. Looking across from above the Rock Tank (did have water in the tank and a slow drip from pipe - there is also a recording camera there) area, it looks like the trail takes you straight up the hill but instead it veers northeast. Soon we would see a nice camping area and then we were hiking on a bit of a ridge line. And coming upon the Red Wall of Cave Creek is pretty cool. Photos can't really do it justice.

At 10:45 we reached the 2 mile Cottonwood Springs sign (from the Skull Mesa TH). We started at 8:20 or so from Spur Cross and didn't take any kind of break until the Spring at 11:30. We found that anytime we stopped, we got chilled rather quickly. A little before 11 we hit the Skull Mesa intersection. A person could spend a lot of time here just reading all the signs :lol: . Once again the trail got a little muddy but not too bad.

We came to this one area where you could look high above the drainage and I saw a photo op. Glad I did as Kathy spotted the crested saguaro. I knew to look for it but not where. FYI - as you get down the hill from the Cottonwood Spring sign, there is a section that skirts a hill with a wide berth above the high drainage, it is in the drainage to the left (NE of the rock outcropping you stand on).

Next up was Cottonwood Spring. The :FG: were on display as we dropped down to the spring. There was a little water here, enough to filter anyway. We didn't see the can on the tree but there are two large cairns marking the way for 247a (which is to the right (NW) and up the hill). It looks like there is a bit of a trail that continues straight too. Here we decided to have a quick break as it didn't seem too cold. While sitting I spotted the can down in some brush. I had gpsjoe's pic http://hikearizona.com/photo=120402 with me so I put the can back in the position per that picture.

Finally the sun was coming thru and as we headed up the hill, Kathy flushed out a big owl. Didn't get a real good look so it might have been some other big bird. It's fun climbing up from the spring and with the sun coming out, it was even better. We got some nice unhindered views of Skull Mesa as we headed west. Once to the top of the area, we encountered another fence. It looks like there had been two gates, a wooden one and a wire one. However, the prickly pear had totally taken over both of these gates that had been put over to the side. Which begs the question, how fast does a prickly pear cactus grow :-k ? From what I gather 10-20 pads per year... Of course we found the old sign on the ground and off to the side that said please close the gate, ha!

The light was making everything look so crisp and colorful; especially the green of the cactus and flora to the reds, yellow and browns of the soil. We did notice during parts of our hike the very white tops of the saguaros. I thot it was new growth but I don't really know. I did get one close up picture. We continued on our way and as we rounded this one side of a hill, we saw a complete change of scenery that included many yuccas and resurrection trees. It was really something (north exposure). And then as soon as we left that side we were back to normal vegetation. Altho Kathy did spot an ocotillo that had all these small curved branches with new growth on it; very odd for an ocotillo.

Much to our chagrin we continued the roller coaster action down and up drainages. We would try to guess where the trail would go but for the most part we were wrong :lol: as we would end up climbing again. I kept thinking we would end up coming out by the cattle guard/FS boundary area. We did pass by what I call a saguaro wanna-be-palm-tree as it was growing with a small bend in the bottom of its trunk. Another one had a blow out toward the bottom of its trunk. We also passed over this most interesting rock that would crumple in your hands when you picked it up.... must have been some sort of compressed sand. Anyway, it was 8) to break it up in your hands (see video 4 I think).

We eventually ended up on a road of some sort. There is a view point you can take before continuing on the road which eventually veers to the west and joins up with Spur Cross Road less than a mile from the TH. There are two white boulders at this junction but nothing to indicate it's 247a. Not too far from the TH Kathy spotted some deer looking at us. Probably 1/2 dozen including two littler ones. They all looked healthy. I got several pics but one is really good I think. Of course, the sun was NOW finally out in almost full force as we completed our hike.

We finished the day at El Encanto. It is a wonderful way to wind down 2013. Like many others, Kathy slows down her pace to allow me to be in Tibbermode so thank you. I did a few movies since this is a new area for me. Plus, there isn't much on the internet at all about this awesome loop. Definitely would not want to do it in warmer temps though.

Video 1 from TH toward Rock Tank: http://youtu.be/zaCkhHirlKg
Video 2 from Rock Tank area to Cottonwood Springs area: http://youtu.be/NCi25GZa4AY
Video 3 didn't upload successfully, will try again this evening 12/23/2013, now available 12/26/2013 http://youtu.be/0rj7_PngD_w
Video 4 is pending upload to youtube 12/24/2013, now available 12/26/2013: http://youtu.be/P9nIY1kw164
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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We hiked option 2 as described in the hike description by GPSJoe. This was the first time in the area and the weather, fog and snow, added to the adventure on this day. The route finding was a little difficult on the mesa due to the weather and then again just before you make the major drop down to the creek due to the trail markers, or lack of I should say. I was glad I had loaded GPSJoe's route into the GPS as I used it a lot on this trip in those areas. Great hike and we plan on a return trip on a clear day to check out the views.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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Hiked the loop clockwise. 247A has a lot of character, especially alongside the barbed wire fence. The views from this trail offered us a refreshed appreciation of the Spur Cross area. Found the remains of a raccoon. Accidentally scared some Javelina out from under the shade of the Cottonwoods, we would have shared the springs area but they were not obliged. The dragonflies were an uncommon bright red. Got a little friendly with a Teddy Bear and in a separate incident nearly fell bodily into a stand of prickly pear, save for my hand which several spines took. Watched a dear for 10 minutes, got off a lot of photos before realizing it was a rock and bush. Then we saw an actual mule dear, no pictures of that though :? Wendi saw a snake, not a rattler she said but that was about all she got for a description.
There was a "Little" bit of water at where the 247 drops in but the tank was dry. Enough water to wet our bandanas but that was it. Didn't see water anywhere else on the entire hike.
We were some shade hounds today but it sure is nice to be hiking in town again.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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Been really busy, and stressed out -- work -- lately, and so have not been exercising as much as I should have. (As an example, I was actually going to do this last weekend, but something came up.) I like the area north of Cave Creek, so decided to give this a shot. I did it clockwise. Got a late start for me, 0730, but it was not much of a problem as temperatures were predicted to be only 84 degrees. My only concern was smoke from the Sunflower and Gladiator fires. There was definitely a pall over Cave Creek in the morning, but after the wind shifted around 0900, it was a brilliant day.

On the hike, the first thing I noticed was a "Hold on to your kids or the snakes will eat them!" sign. Good advice, because of the two snakes I saw, the second probably could have choked down an infant. (Though the kid would have to be Superman to get that far up Trail 247.) On the north side of Trail 247, after the first saddle, at roughly 33.910722 / -111.932547 , I saw a fairly large metallic object of some sort. Probably a water tank. It was not far off trail, and I wanted to check it out, but I could already tell I had perhaps bit off more than I could chew, so left it for another day.

Just after the tank, the trail turns north, following the crest of a ridgeline for about a half mile. I always sweep my vision back and forth, near and far, looking for lines across the trail. Not for snakes, per se, but for lines. Pattern recognition first, then evaluate if it is a threat or a stick. So, I did not notice the adolescent rattler curled up sunning in the trail until I was about five feet away. I stepped back. he did not move or rattle. Obviously he was one with The Mellow. I saw my second snake of the day, a Western Diamondback, about a mile later, just before the Skull Mesa gate. He was perpendicular to the trail, heading away, but rattled me anyway. Obviously a cranky senior citizen.

By the time you hit the gate, most of the climbing is done, which is a good thing, because I was starting to feel it. Dropped down into the Cottonwood Spring area, where it looked like the water was done flowing for the year. Just puddles. Though I did walk past Trail 247A at first, with Joe's GPS route, it was not hard to find at all. It's right by the tin can hanging from the tree. I created a quick cairn just in case, though honestly you would be fine on this loop with nothing but a hard copy topo map, as land marks were really easy to pick out.

By the time I got to the house at Little Wonder Spring, about 6.5 miles in, I was done. Spent. I could see the trailhead in the distance, so figured the trail must waltz right on down there. No such luck. Property fenced and "no tresspassing" signed off. Word of warning: There is also a sign that says "Trail North", or words to that effect, but the arrow actually points left/south. Go north.

The last 2.5 miles were just grinding. Besides being tired, and sore, I could tell my left quad was not firing all the neurons it should have been. Like the muscle was dead. Trail 247A hits Trail 4 at the gravel road with one mile to go. Once I got there, tired or not, I tried to pick up the pace because I knew if I slowed down I might stop, and was worried my wife would be worrying that I was late, and because I was having Ft. Bragg flashbacks, where in my younger days we always finish off a march by double-timing to the finish line. I collapsed in the front seat of my wife's car for a few minutes, apologizing for making her worry, while finishing off the last of my water.

Driving back down the road, my vision was flashing very bright, kind of similar to my Black Canyon hike last June, minus the white rings around the edge of my vision, so we stopped at the Buffalo Chip Saloon to top off my electrolytes with salty french fries and a couple of tall, frosty PBRs.
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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On the agenda today was Skull Mesa via Spur Cross Trail. Got out of the house later than I wanted and hit Rush Hour traffic. Didn't get on the Trail until 9:00 and it was cloudy??? Guess I should have gotten an update on the weather. Heading down Spur Cross Trail and got to the intersection of Metate Trail and decided to do a small side jaunt. Only went as far as the River Crossing, but what an awesome Trail! The Saguaros were huge! Saw a Metate and just enjoyed the trek immensely.

Back up to Spur Cross Trail and started crossing the creek. Water is flowing, yea! Love being around water. Crossed 3 more times and took some pictures of course. ;) I couldn't believe how green and lush the grass was. It really contrasted with the red rock. After the last crossing, found the big Skull Mesa sign, hiked about 300 Feet and found the intersection of Spur Cross, Cave Creek, and Cottonwood Trails. I ended up not quite understanding the Description I had and made a mistake, taking the Cave Creek Trail approximately 4/10 of a mile up before I realized that I needed to turn right away on Cottonwood Trail. :? Back down, get on Cottonwood and start going up...and then down...and then up...down. :sweat: And the Trail was all loose rock. (Must be my week for this kind of Trail.;))

Arrive at Rock Tank Spring. There's a Trough with a pipe that was barely dripping and then there's a Pool about 50ft to the north of the Trough that was creating a tiny flow along the rock bed for about 100ft.

Continued on for more ups and downs on that rocky Trail. By this time, I knew, because of several factors, that I was not going to do the top of the Mesa today. I'm not in my better boots (they are on the Injured Reserve List), and now I'm really starting to hurt. It also looks like it's threatening to rain and even if I made the top, I wouldn't have enough time to explore and that's half the fun...

I get to the Junction of Skull Mesa Trail. I look at the view and know that I have made the right decision not to go up on the Mesa. The vistas would have been pretty nonexistent due to the weather. I go up a little ways anyway and find some cool Petroglyphs and Metates and explore around for a few more. Back to the Junction and it's decision time. I've been using one of the Descriptions alot because it was so detailed and it mentioned an unofficial Trail called 247A near Cottonwood Spring. Sounds a little sketchy, but the thought of all those ups, downs and rocks is not even remotely appealing now. So I take a chance and head down the hill to the Spring.

Reached Cottonwood Spring and found a little Flow, but the source looked like it was back uphill a little way, and since I was running out of time and didn't know how far up it was, I didn't go looking. Instead, I started looking for the "old wooden sign" that marked 247A. Couldn't find it, but found a Cairn directly across the Spring from where I had come down. Took it, thinking that as long as it didn't go East, I would be fine. Finally, after two days of mistakes, I was right about something! :D Apparently this Trail is mostly used by Horseback Riders so I was dodging a few steaming piles, but other than that, it was a great trail. Very few rocks, not nearly the up and down, and it had Cairns in any sketchy areas. It appeared to dead end at a Gate with a No Trespassing Sign, but lo and behold, a sharp turn marked by a Cairn. :y: Followed it down and it intersected with a road which intersected with the Spur Cross Trail about 1 mile before the TH. Got back to the car about Sunset and ended up staying for another 1/2 hour because the Sunset was incredible. Sorry about so many Sunset pictures, but I couldn't make up my mind which were better...You guys decide. It was a good Hike, disappointed that I didn't do the Mesa, but I'll be back for that one! :) I have such a huge blister on my right heel that I took the Sunset pics in my socks. :(

Beautiful area and took loads of pictures. More than usual, because there was Water, :) Flowers, :) Petroglyphs :) and Sunsets :) to behold.... Who could ask for anything more???
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek
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Last time I hiked from the Spur Cross TH I did a 19.2 mile loop with some mistakes. One of those was at Cottonwood Spring where there are two trails and I was on the wrong one for 1/4th mile and had to turn back. But that left me wondering where did that trail go? It was not a Cave Creek official Forest Service trail.

So today I went back and hiked 5.5 miles on the usual route to the Cottonwood Trail and on to Cottonwood Spring. Then I picked up the unknown trail there and followed it back. It went for 2.9 miles to intersect the Spur Cross trail just 1 mile from the parking lot so the going out trip was 5.5 miles and the coming back trip only 3.9 miles. This unofficial trail was in great condition and easy to follow by an experienced hiker. I got it right on the first try. GPS track files for the 9.4 mile Cottonwood Spring loop and the unofficial trail connecting Cottonwood Spring to the Spur Cross trail have been submitted.

I must admit I was surprised.

Permit $$
Spur Cross Conservation Area $3 per person


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - 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 gpsjoe on Feb 01 2010 3:08 pm
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