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Elephant Mountain Loop, AZ
mini location map2015-02-15
23 by photographer avatartibber
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Elephant Mountain Loop, AZ 
Elephant Mountain Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 15 2015
tibber
Hiking7.93 Miles 1,396 AEG
Hiking7.93 Miles   4 Hrs   6 Mns   2.25 mph
1,396 ft AEG      35 Mns Break
 
been trying to get back together with Wade and Mary Jo and finally caught a weekend when Wade would be in town. His requirement: not too early and not too far away. My mission: 1:15 at Spur Cross TH with optional hikes depending. They had not hiked this section of Spur Cross so I got to show them something new as we selected the Elephant Mountain Loop clockwise. Mary Jo paid our dues and with a quick rest stop at the TH we headed back toward the Jewel of the Creek Trail.

It's beautifully green as you look down from the top of the trail before heading down on this immaculate trail. You can still see the debris from the last storms high on the bank. As you know Cave Creek is wide and narrow throughout so the water can pile up in sections as it waits to pass through the more narrow areas. As usual, I came out too soon ](*,) to hit the Dragonfly Trail but it turned out to be a bit of a bonus as we saw a stone foundation of some sort and across the way some mine tailings I had never noticed before. Having those extra set of eyes while hiking always seems to pay off with seeing new things on a route you know pretty well.

We passed by the remnants of a mine below us before dipping down creekside. The beach is still there as you get ready to cross the creek. The pools are always a cool site; one of them is quite deep. We cross the creek on the reinstated planks and continue our way along the Dragonfly Trail to the intersection with the Jewel of the Creek where you head left up the wash. From there you traverse up until you get to a bit of a plateau with great views toward Eleph Mtn, Black Mesa Mtn, Sugarloaf and Skull Mesa.

Once you hit the 3 way intersection, we hung a left again to head west via the Spur Cross Trail toward Eleph Mtn Trail. This part of the hike always seems long so it was nice to have company. There are a couple sections I like on this part of the trek. And it was interesting once again to see the two arms of the saguaro alongside the trail next to where the saguaro still stands. As you come around the corner and head west again, you can see the poppies starting :) on Poppy Alley and Poppy Corner. They're pretty minuscule right now but when the show starts, it will make you smile. At the Eleph Mtn intersection we took a break.

The climb up the Elephant Mtn trail never seems hard to me, not sure why. As usual it was really pretty with the golden grass, the prickly pear, the saguaros and of course, teddy cholla lane and corner. We stopped at the top of the hill to check out the landscape in front of us. Wade showed us where he went up and down Skull Mesa and where the knife was located. It was quite a long journey he had. Before you knew it, after getting up that last steep bit, we were at the saddle. It was very pleasant. Many times it is windy but not today. I showed them where the ruins are and we continued down the other side.

It's the last bit of down as you get toward the wash that's a bit touchy as the trail is not in very good shape and it has lots of loose rocks. It's always fun to walk in the wash and there are usually a couple different routes one can take. Though there are lines of rock where they would prefer you not go or to keep you on track. Mary Jo topped off a cairn (Kathy likes to do that too). We got to the next up that I had told them about where the Boy Scouts had built the steps. They really did a nice job. The great thing about this climb is you come rather steeply out of the wash but are quickly at a little bit of a plateau to gather your breath before tackling the rest of the hill.

From there we hiked the rocky Tortuga trail section to the wash. The one downhill to the next wash has really been effected by the rain as the bedrock bottom is clear of rocks. Wade confirmed that he thot the two pieces of cement were cement; must be left over from the ranch days as it's only at the top section. Once atop the next hill we saw a couple way off the trail trying to move something. We determined it was a saguaro skeleton. Why they were trying to move it is beyond me. We crossed on the planks at Cave Creek again and got back to our vehicles.

We concluded our fun afternoon at El Encanto. I had a terrific tequila lime shrimp dinner with corn rice :DANCE: . The rice was awesome! I very seldom finish a meal but I did this one AND two margaritas. Thanks for the fun time Wade and Mary Jo; it was nice to catch up with you. Now they owe me a hike to the 6L area. No video as I have movied this hike a few times. I do have to say the hike seems prettier going counterclockwise if you're going later in the afternoon.

Update 2-20-2015 I lied :-$ , I did take some video. http://youtu.be/f6dK07...
Flora
Flora
Chuparosa
_____________________
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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