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More Cave Creek Canyon Ruin Hunting, AZ
mini location map2012-12-29
11 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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More Cave Creek Canyon Ruin Hunting, AZ 
More Cave Creek Canyon Ruin Hunting, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 29 2012
Hiking9.40 Miles
Hiking9.40 Miles
1st trip
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Another day searching for Hohokam ruins in Cave Creek Canyon. This time I was looking for a site listed in an old archaeology report that is on one of the highest benches on the west side of Skull Mesa. It is the only one I know of between the Cottonwood Trail #247 to the south and Chalk Canyon to the north. It is also the only one left in the report north of the Spur Cross trailhead for which I have not yet searched. I set a GPS waypoint for the site as best as I could based on the location shown in the report on a USGS topo map. I've found this only puts me in the vicinity. In the past I've been aided by being able to see the ruins on Google Earth but these ruins did not show up.

My hike took me up Cave Creek on the old FR48 road to the intersection with Cave Creek Trail #4. The creek had a small trickle of water and was easy to cross without getting wet feet. On Cave Creek #4 I proceeded up the old jeep trail that ends on a saddle overlooking Chalk Canyon. From there I headed offtrail towards Skull Mesa climbing to the top of the ridge and then following the ridge line towards the high bench. I hadn't gone very far along the ridge before I started seeing pottery sherds. This slowed me down to search for possible ruins hidden in the brush. My destination ruin was still about 0.8 miles away. All I found were small rock piles placed between boulders at points overlooking the road below and also one very small fort-like rock enclosure. I would see a number of similar man made features throughout the day, always located with a good viewpoint of trails below. I'm wondering if these were built in modern times as hunting blinds. Or, were they rifleman "nests" setup to ambush enemies during the Apache Wars?

As I proceeded further along the ridge, the frequency of pottery sherds increased until reaching the point where the ridge met the level top of the bench. There it was a total pottery sherd and lithics bonanza! This was still 0.3 miles away from the archaeology report's ruin location. A quick search of the surroundings revealed low rock walls that enclosed at least two rectanglar areas approximately 30x40 ft. None of the walls had the appearance of the typical habitation room which at their largest are approximately 10x15 ft. My guess is that these were garden plots based on the soil deepness and the complete lack of any building features on the inside of the walls. Also the wall on the down hill side of the enclosures appeared to be more like terraces than walls. Interestingly the entire top of the bench was fairly level and had fairly deep topsoil. Perhaps the inhabitants 800 years ago had some dry land farming going on up here.

I cut short my time exploring this site to go look for the site mentioned in the report which was supposed to have approximately 20 pueblo style rooms and some trough metates. Although I found a rocky point with a proliferation of petroglyphs, I never did find the ruins. I took a different path back across the high bench and found pottery sherds at several locations but no ruins. Perhaps the archaeology report writers had accidently marked the wrong location on the topo map and the actual location was where I found ruins. However the ruins I found did not appear to match the discription in the report. I did not have enough time on this trip to search all the possible locations for ruins on that bench top - I will be back.
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