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Spur Cross Loop, AZ

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Guide 125 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.3 of 5 by 35
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,232 feet
Elevation Gain 600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
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5  2019-03-16 Hansenaz
5  2019-02-03 mazatzal
6  2018-12-23 DarthStiller
8  2018-12-23 JimmyLyding
2  2018-11-23 hikerdw
8  2018-11-04
Spur Cross Limestone Loop
8  2018-04-01 Yoder
7  2018-03-31 tibber
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Author Trishness
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 0
Photos 720
Trips 187 map ( 1,244 miles )
Age 60 Female Gender
Location Apache Junction, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:23pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
A touch of spring
by Trishness

Overview: This is a relatively new conservation area purchased by the state of Arizona in January of 2001 thus saving it from developers. Located just north of Cave Creek, it borders the Tonto National Forest with 2,154 acres of pristine high Sonoran desert terrain and has several trails of varying difficulty, some which connect with the Cave Creek Trail System.

Hike: Mario, Sheri & I originally planned to take Mario's 4x4 2.5 miles in to the connecting Cave Creek Trail and hike from there but our plans were altered a bit when we got to Spur Cross Ranch and the gate was locked. After speaking briefly with a sheriff who was parked at the gate, we found out that motorized vehicles are no longer allowed access to this area and we wound up going a short distance back to the parking area to figure out what we were going to do. The decision was unanimous and we decided to do a 5.5 loop hike using an old Jeep road to Trail #252 and come back on Spur Cross Trail. We got to the kiosk and headed off to start the loop clockwise. The first 1.4 miles was on an old Jeep road that was wide, easy to follow and had some decent elevation gain and basically followed the terrain in and out of several washes. The views of Elephant Mountain were outstanding as we headed northwest on the Jeep road and eventually came upon the trail junction for this. All along this area of the trail, we kept seeing little sprigs of color... little purple, yellow and white wildflowers. As tempting as it was we continued northwesterly and eventually came upon the Tonto National Forest boundary, marked by a barbed wire gate. Once through the gate, we continued another 0.5 miles to trail #252 that is marked by a rock with petroglyphs (Rondo Spring/Spur Trail marker) and a sad looking little trail off to the west. We took a right so we were heading east and it was here that the terrain took on variated colors at every turn. We had views of Sugarloaf Mountain to our north but as we ascended and descended onto various washes, the colors of the rock along the trail continually amazed us as it turned from red to white to brown to black volcanic rock. It was amazing! We came down on part of the trail where it was glaring white rock and I saw a clump of red wildflowers. The saguaro were impressive along this stretch of the trai... huge amounts of 40-50 footers. We continued on and after 0.5 miles came upon Page Spring... a small spring with lush green grass. Continued on another mile and came upon Limestone Spring. There were minnows or some other little fish in the water as well as lots of bees. When we descended from this area, the view just took your breath away. After another short trek from here we descended into a wash and heard WATER! CAVE CREEK! Stopped here and had lunch along the creek while watching a huge black Lab thoroughly enjoying the water. He was having entirely too much fun but it was a perfect lunch break. Hiked back out past the corral, crossed the creek a few more times and then followed it back to the parking lot... about 1.8 miles from the corral.

This was one of the more beautiful hikes I've seen in recent months due to the wildflowers and the one red cardinal I saw as well as the diversity of the terrain. Due to this being a conservation area, many of the areas are closed to "off-trail" hiking but there are ranger-led activities to the petrolgyphs and Indian ruins that are scattered throughout the area. When we were hiking out we stopped and spoke to Judy, one of the hiking sponsers who gave us some history of the area. It seems this area has a plethora of Indian settlement ruins which date back to early Hohokam, circa 1100. They offer guided tours of these areas monthly.

Park Segments:

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.

2004-02-16 Trishness
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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 of 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Spur Cross Loop
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Clockwise. I forgot.... how miserable that rocky part of the trail is; especially when you're struggling. Yep, another bad hike for me, two in a row; previous to those, I'd been doing so well. Don't know if it was the heat even though it wasn't that hot.

At the Rondo Springs Rock, I decided since I hadn't seen anyone up in this area yet I better text my niece to let her know what I was doing. I told her the only sign of life I saw up here so far were lizards and one cardinal. I told her hopefully the snakes were sleeping. 15 minutes later I got buzzed and in my haste to get away on this narrow trail I fell to the right ](*,) which really aggravated the rattler over in the bush; not sure which bush. Mended my torn finger as the sweat was dripping from my head; don't know if this Flying HAZ hat causes that all though I heat up pretty fast. I had to get my poles out again too since I was struggling.

And as I finally crossed under the fence gate and was heading down the hill I got buzzed again, by HAZel. Of course, I am looking around not realizing at first it was HAZel :? . And now all of a sudden there are throngs of people coming up this trail; some looked more capable than others and I let them know it was pretty rocky on the other side for about 1/2 mile. Another group asked if the trail looped and I said yes, it was another 3 1/2 or more miles and not the easiest for awhile.

As I finished this downhill section where you cross the drainage I remembered this is the spot where my brothers and I stopped back in 2008 to goof around and take pictures. I'm going thru my brothers xHD and see that he had saved those (We did at least 10 hikes in Spur Cross). Anyway I sure was glad to finally see the corral. I was delighted to see water in the creek, flowing water. Not a lot but water :) . The path on the other side is well worn now too and much wider. I got my umbrella out, re-fixed my bleeding finger and marched on my way as it seemed to be getting even warmer. This should be a piece of cake for me so I was quite aggravated.

A little later I pulled over into the minuscule of shade at the dry creek before the road starts again and put my poles away. At Cave Creek I saw the vortex of cairns, took a picture and then headed up the hill to where the Metate Trail starts. There is a nice bench there so I took advantage. And then thru Cottonwood Wash as I started seeing more and more tourists.

At the make-shift VC the resident rattler was showing off so I came over and watched for about 10 minutes and took a couple lousy pictures; didn't realize what a fright I must have looked like as my mascara and dirt were all over my face... oh well. Yep, a rough day for me. Gonna take the prescribed puffer with me next time to see if that helps.

1 poppy, some hedgehog
Spur Cross Loop
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Just a great day to be in Spur Cross. I made a wrong turn on this hike and well it may have added to it. Because of my wrong turn at the Spur Cross/Rondo springs marker I had extra time so with that I added a few more trails.
Those trails being Metate and Towhee trails. And really if not for that wrong turn I would have probably ever hike those two trails. So in away I am glad I made that wrong turn. They weather was perfect and we really hade the trails to our selves at least 90% of the time.
Just a really great day to be hiking out here.
Spur Cross Loop
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Stayed in town and got out to the Spur Cross / Jewel of the Creek area.

Temps were perfect in the am, and with the afternoon breeze, never got to warm.

Dragonfly Trail, Maricopa Trail, Elephant Mountain, Tortuga Trail, Towhee, Metate, Cave Creek #4 are all in great shape

Limestone #252 is fading away. It is also filled with icky Foxtail grass.
All 18 minutes of break time were to pull them from my shoes.
Another 45 minutes at home to get them from my shoes and socks.

Saw a Gila Monster in the tall grass, and a bit later, a dead Gray Fox in the middle of the trail. Coincidence?
Spur Cross Loop
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My first real adventure in a hot minute. I love love love Cave Creek, and specifically Spur Cross Ranch!!! I was at the TH before first light and paid my dues with headlamp at the self pay station. Saw about 15 javelina, one of which snorted at me at the first Cave Creek crossing. Made my way up over to Limestone Spring which was dry. All the water sources out there, expectedly are dry as a bone including Cave Creek itself.

After a hot summer in which I've had some medical issues, it felt good to get out and be alone in a beautiful beautiful place.
Spur Cross Loop
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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.
Spur Cross Loop
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Spur Cross Live Nativity Loop
Despite the no- :pk: disclaimer, when Lee texted me and asked if I wanted to go on sunset hike, I was a little :scared: . So I brought Clairebear along too! :)

The plan was to enjoy the scenery in Spur Cross before checking out the amazing 62nd annual live Nativity performance at the Conservation Area.*

The road was lined with paper bags on fire, and we drove over as many as we could to try to prevent any catastrophic wildfire in the desert. Some nice ladies from church yelled at us saying things that probably aren't biblically approved. :oops:

After a nice loop in the mountains, we returned to the trailhead in the dark like three wisemen with headlamps. I strolled up on Mary and curiously questioned her virgin status while Blanco and Cup harrassed the sheep. Apparently fotg had forgotten the leashes again. ](*,)

Most of the folks were drinking coffee and hot cider, but nobody really looked at me too strangely as I sauntered through with a Devil's Ale in my hand. I grabbed a few photos before heading back to the truck where I heard something about kidnapping some kid in swaddling clothes. [-X

On the drive out, we nearly killed three kings on horseback. That woulda probably ruined the night for Bob Hutson, the soothing voice who was emceeing the whole event.

Despite the distractions of the season, it's a pretty nice area that I'd never been to before. Perhaps we'll have to come back next year!

: rein :

*Portions of this tale may be fictionalized.

Cottonwoods just beginning to turn in Cave Creek
Spur Cross Loop
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I'm a HUGE World Cup soccer fan so it was tuff to pull myself away from the TV but I haven't been out hiking for a week. ;) So, I got up early for a Father's Day hike :) I invited both my children and my wife but no takers.

I wanted to check out more of the trails out at Spur Cross. I got to the parking lot at 6:45am :) Only one other car in the lot, for that matter I only saw 1 mountain biker and 1 hiker. The trails were awesome :D Lots of birds out today. There was a cardinals within earshot and sight all day :D
Spur Cross Loop
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I liked Spur Cross Ranch so much when I was here a couple weeks ago that I brought my girlfriend back here today. Lots of cars in the parking lot when we got there, but we didn't see a whole lot of people on the trails.

Skipped the Elephant Mountain trail this time, and checked out the Metate and Towhee side of the park instead. The Metate and Towhee trails were nice strolls through a very lush area. The Tortuga Trail was especially muddy and slippery from the rain, and we nearly ate it a few times. We were hoping there were still some fall colors to be seen around the creek, and there were. There was a little more water in the creek this time from the rain the past couple days, but mostly just standing pools of water.

Walking back to our car we heard a large group of coyotes back down by the Spur Cross Trail that were very excited about something, and I got a good look at one of them. Wish we could have gotten a look at the whole group.

This park has become one of my favorite hikes, and I believe I'll be coming back often. :)

Still some nice fall colors along the creek.
Spur Cross Loop
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My first hike in the Cave Creek area, and I'll definitely be back. Started out on the Spur Cross Trail. Continued up the Tortuga, then counter-clockwise through the Elephant Mountain Trail. Finished off the loop with the Dragonfly trail, through "Jewel of the Creek", and back up the road 1/4 mile to the parking lot.

Went on a Friday morning so I saw almost no one else on the trails. The solitude was nice. Creek was nearly completely dry, which was kind of a bummer...only saw some small pools of water here and there. Really enjoyed the varied terrain and environments. This park has some of the biggest saguaros I've seen, and some nice cholla forests. Huge cottonwoods still hanging on to some great fall colors by the creek. I was surprised by how green a lot of places were.

All the trails were well marked, and you can grab a very well-made map at the entrance. Very nice park, and the few staff that I met were very nice people.
Spur Cross Loop
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Did the hike today as another training hike. Certainly was an amazing beautiful hike today. Took 4 hours although I sped through with time for stops to enjoy the scenary. Starting from the creek side, was a beautiful scene as I progressed through. Took a 32 pound pack for strength building. No problems noted.

Permit $$
Spur Cross Conservation Area $3 per person

Map Drive
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
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