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Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop, AZ
mini location map2020-12-06
16 by photographer avatarkyleGChiker
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Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop, AZ 
Cave Creek / Cottonwood Loop, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 06 2020
Backpack24.27 Miles 5,395 AEG
Backpack24.27 Miles2 Days   3 Hrs   3 Mns   
5,395 ft AEG42 LBS Pack
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Took the family out for a three day backpacking trip in the seven springs area--our first time there! After church on Sunday, we drove up the road to the Cave Creek Trailhead, where we started the hike. We didn't quite know what to expect with the water situation, so we took some extra and played it by ear. Thankfully, there was sufficient water in Cave Creek itself, actually forming a nice waterfall we camped near. On this trip, we were seeking nice yellow fall leaves, and we were not disappointed! The campground near the trailhead had abundant fall leaves, as did the majority of Cave Creek canyon itself.

Day 2 we continued our hike along Cave Creek Trail #4. It got to being a pretty hot day by afternoon, and were pleased to rest in the shade wherever we could find it. Dad wasn't feeling up for doing the whole trip, and needed to go to work the next day, so he hiked the last couple miles out to Spur Cross (where we had previously staged a vehicle) and the rest of us (mom, sister, and I) continued up the Cottonwood Trail. After hiking several more miles in the heat that afternoon, we were becoming a little concerned about the water situation. We passed one area where a spring was shown on the map, and we could see about 1/4 mile off the trail, a small trickle of water flowing over some slickrock in the canyon below. Unfortunately, there was another group camped there already, so we moved on. Wilderness is best kept that way, and we had enough water for a dry camp, so we pressed onward. Fortunately, we got to Cottonwood Spring itself (if you look at the old USGS topos, there are three Cottonwood Springs labeled) and it was flowing at a rate of 1 quart per 2.5 minutes (yes, I timed it). The water was nice, clear, and cold. We actually camped in the old corral shown on the topo map, which was the only flat place to pitch a tent. :lol:

The last day, we enjoyed a very diverse amount of scenery, and despite the climbing and distance that definitely felt longer than advertised, we did eventually make it back to our car. The highlight the last day was seeing two different herds of javelinas, one with 15 members, and the other approximately 35 members (though we couldn't count them all), including several babies just a week or two old, as well as some "teenagers". In terms of wildlife, we also saw two owls, one larger Great Horned and a smaller owl (yet to be identified). The small owl had caught a dove and was holding it in its talons. What struck me as unusual was that the small owl wasn't much larger than the dove itself. I'd estimate the size at around 8-9" for the biSrd, not including tail. I
t was sad to see the dove in its talons, but I guess that's the way nature works in this world plagued by sin and the curse. We also saw lizards, wrens, ravens, and other small birds in abundance. The seven springs area struck me as having significantly more wildlife than the uperstitions, for example.
I intend to post an official guide for this hike as well, probably for leaving from Spur Cross, since that's the more common trailhead. I noticed that such a hike exists on HikeAZ but is needing a full guide. That's why this triplog is a little sparse on details, because I intend to post all the details about the actual trail over there on the guide.

Have fun enjoying the outdoors, everyone!

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