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Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur Cross
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mini location map2010-04-25
53 by photographer avatartibber
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Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur CrossPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 25 2010
tibber
Hiking7.63 Miles 667 AEG
Hiking7.63 Miles   4 Hrs   45 Mns   1.61 mph
667 ft AEG
 
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oliverr99
I really wanted to take the weekend off to tend to my home and my photo editing but with these nice temps I just couldn't resist. I contacted Anne and she agreed to come with me on this hike as I didn't want to go alone; especially with it likely being a place to find a snake or two and because I wanted to do the loop rather than coming back the way we came.

So around 8:30 we took off from the Spur Cross TH heading west to do the Elephant Mountain loop counter-clockwise. The crossing place at Cave Creek creek has been altered since the high water came through this year and there is still a good deal of water considering it's nearly the end of April. The Spur Cross trail turns into the Tortuga Trail after 7 tenths of a mile reaching the Eleph Mtn TH in about another mile.

Shortly after the Eleph Mtn TH you start going south and slightly west down into the wash. It is a bit steep but there are some fortified areas along the way so it's not too bad. You go in and out of the wash a couple times (follow the cairns) before starting the last 1/2 mile climb up to the saddle behind what I call the fortress. You will come across another little trail sign where it looks like you can make your way west and over to a spring (photo later) that seems to be still flowing pretty good at this time.

Along the way though Anne woke up :o Arthur who was sleeping under a bush. I couldn't see him so I didn't know where I could walk. I picked up a little rock and threw it toward the bush. Well needless to say I got his attention and finally saw the tail I could only hear at this point. He was very annoyed by now and I could hardly even move without him getting all excited. Anne suggested another route around Arthur which I started on but ran into a cholla. However, I eventually got around that and after getting safely away, and Anne had caught her breath, we continued our journey but a bit more guarded.

There is a bedrock area a little more than 1/10th from the saddle (2.75 miles from the Spur Cross TH per Scout) where we took a quick break. Another hiker who had passed us earlier was heading back down and we warned him about Arthur (Anne didn't really name him 'til we got to the Saddle so we just said "SNAKE").

10 minutes later we reached the saddle (2 hours total at this point including stops here and there -Elev 3142, 2.87 Miles, 889 Ttl Ascent). We ran into another couple at the Saddle who had come the reverse way (clockwise). We asked them to take a picture of us doing our "wendy" and told them about this site.

I took a quick movie from the saddle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v25vX09IJis where you can see the defensive ruins as well as the views. You are not supposed to go to the top of the fortress unless with a ranger. We then started down the backside (south). We really had no idea how the trail was going to get us back to the Spur Cross Trail as we kept heading further west around the back (south) side of Elephant Mountain. Finally about 45 minutes later, we came to a sign where you can take the Spur Cross further west or east (u-turn) back to the TH.

We headed east and in about 1/2 hour arrived at the junction with the DragonFly and Tortuga trails. We took the DragonFly south to the wash before heading east to the Creek and hooking up with the Jewel of the Creek trail and back to the Spur Cross TH.

It was a very entertaining hike on the way down and around Elephant Mountain made even more spectacular by the blooming brittle bushes, blooming cacti, ocotillo and other wildflowers AND the fat, happy and giant saguaros. We also thot the lizards around Elephant Mountain seemed particularly big.

I am still amazed at the destruction caused by the high and rushing water that came down Cave Creek creek. We were also surprised at how many people seemed to be heading down the Jewel of the Creek Preserve as it was getting quite warm by this time. You'll get a nice workout on this hike plus there is lots to see and enjoy.
Fauna
Fauna
Funnel-web Spider
Culture
Culture
Throwing a Wendy
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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