|Guide||♦||130 Triplogs||1 Topic|
A touch of spring
Spur Cross is a relatively new conservation area purchased by Arizona in January of 2001, thus saving it from developers. Located just north of Cave Creek and bordering the Tonto National Forest with 2,154 acres of pristine high Sonoran desert terrain. It has several trails of varying difficulty, some of which connect with the Cave Creek Trail System.
Mario, Sheri & I originally planned to take Mario's 4x4 2.5 miles into 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 parked at the gate, we found out that motorized vehicles are no longer allowed access to this area. 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 were on an old Jeep road that was wide, easy to follow, had some decent elevation gain, and followed the terrain in and out of several washes. Elephant Mountain views 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 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 Sugarloaf Mountain views to our north, but as we ascended and descended onto various washes, the colors of rock along the trail continually amazed us, turning from red to white to brown to black volcanic rock. It was amazing! We came down a trail section, where it was glaring white rock, and I saw a clump of red wildflowers. The saguaros were impressive along this stretch of the trail, with huge amounts of 40-50 footers. After another 0.5 miles, we came upon a small spring with lush green grass, Page Spring.
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! I 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, 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. Still, there are ranger-led activities to the petroglyphs and Indian ruins scattered throughout the area. When we were hiking out, we stopped and spoke to Judy, one of the hiking sponsors, 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.
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.