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Cottonwood Trail #247 - 25 members in 100 triplogs have rated this an average 3.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Feb 16 2020
ShatteredArm
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 44
 Photos 249
 Triplogs 44

36 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Matty's Fork loop, AZ 
Matty's Fork loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 16 2020
ShatteredArm
Hiking14.86 Miles 2,337 AEG
Hiking14.86 Miles   6 Hrs   12 Mns   2.42 mph
2,337 ft AEG      4 Mns Break
 
1st trip
A couple years ago, while bushwhacking down from the Skull Mesa ruins, one of my adventure buddies and I decided it would be fun to try bushwhacking all the way up Matty's Fork from Trail 4 to Quien Sabe trail. We finally decided to make it happen.

To get to where Matty's Fork crosses Trail 4, it's about 5.5 miles from Seven Springs, or about 6.5 from Spur Cross. We decided to start from Seven Springs, since it's more scenic up there anyways. Saw some cattle down in the narrow part of Cave Creek, which is a shame. More on that later.

Heading up Matty's Fork, the flow in the creek was light at first, with algae. Saw some nice ponds in some areas. Some areas were dry, but there was flow in most of it. Farther up, the water started to get colder (and clearer).

Things got interesting about half way up, where there is a narrow section with some small waterfalls, and one very refreshing-looking pool that you have to do some very light scrambling to bypass. It was really a nice little stretch of creek, and a little unexpected considering I had never heard anything about this place.

Upstream from the narrows, some faint paths appear, some of which seemed like trail that was at one point actually built. Shortly after that, we ran into what seems like an old homestead (or grow op) with a picnic table and a shack that is about to fall over. It has been around since before the early 90s, based on dates carved into the wood. Really interesting, but slightly eerie, place.

Past the cabin the creekbed starts to narrow, resulting in more plants to navigate, but still nothing terrible. Eventually we hit Quien Sabe trail, and took a break before the grunt up the hill.

Half way up the climb on Quien Sabe, we hit a section of the old Jeep road that has been cleared very recently. From there all the way down to the Cartwright Ranch, you can now drive a car on it. It's also cleared down towards Skunk Tank, and there's a cleared road down to a tank higher up the canyon from Skunk Tank, where there was heavy equipment. Someone is obviously doing something out there - my guess is it's cattle-related, and the fact that I saw cattle for the first time down in Cave Creek is not a coincidence. What a shame.

Aside from learning about the recent pillaging of a beautiful area, it was a pretty fun day, and I'll definitely visit Matty's Fork again. It was very pleasant as far as off-trail desert hiking is concerned.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mattys Fork Medium flow Medium flow
Good flow in most of the creek. A few dry stretches.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Quien Sabe Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Plenty of water at trail crossing.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Skunk Tank Canyon Medium flow Medium flow
_____________________
Feb 08 2020
DixieFlyer
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 Guides 20
 Routes 283
 Photos 3,647
 Triplogs 259

male
 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Skull Mesa RuinsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 08 2020
DixieFlyer
Hiking15.90 Miles 3,812 AEG
Hiking15.90 Miles   7 Hrs   49 Mns   2.50 mph
3,812 ft AEG   1 Hour   28 Mns Break
 
I decided to make my annual trek to the Skull Mesa Ruins today. We went up to the Mesa via the "conventional" route -- Spur Cross Trail to Cave Creek Trail #4 to Cottonwood Trail #247 to Skull Mesa Trail #248. Then we went off-trail across the mesa to the ruins. We returned the same way except this time we took Trail 247A (or is it 247B?) off of the Cottonwood Trail and connected to the Mariposa Hill Trail in the Spur Cross Park. This shortcut saved almost 1.5 miles on the way back.

This is a fun hike that is a good workout. Up on the mesa we found some petroglyphs that I have been trying to find for a couple of years -- some say that the glyphs are X-rated, but I am not so sure about that.

Walking up on the mesa did not seem as bad as it has in the past, maybe because I managed to avoid the prickly pear this time. Going down Trail #248 reminded me why it is one of my least favorite trails.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Inversion Layer
_____________________
I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of starvation.
1 archive
Jan 25 2020
DarthStiller
avatar

 Guides 17
 Routes 266
 Photos 6,417
 Triplogs 469

50 male
 Joined Jul 05 2006
 Mesa, AZ
Bronco Trail #245Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 25 2020
DarthStiller
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,030 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   6 Hrs   4 Mns   1.98 mph
2,030 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I decided to hike the Bronco and Cottonwood Trails from the Bronco Trailhead to the 7Springs area, or at least to the junction with the Skunk Tank Trail. I got about 1000 feet or so short of it when the trail had disappeared completely. Looks like the fire from 2005 to that section of the Cottonwood Trail out and it wasn't rebuilt.

Started just before 7am in the dark. It was a bit chilly but not bad. At the one saddle on the way up to the high point someone had a tent set up for an overnighter. I could hear the people inside as I walked by. Bronco Tank has some water in it. Made note of the China Wall Trail junction past that, might try that one sometime soon. Bronco starts smooth but soon gets rocky, then rockier.

The Cottonwood Trail from the junction was flat and smooth, then I lost it as it climbed and I stayed in the creek. I bushwhacked my way back up the hill to the trail, then descended as it has turned very rocky. Back in the wash, it begins to fade. It was as this point that I tripped, smacked my bad knee on a rock, and punctured my hand with a stick. Just as my knee had quit burning I noticed the blood on my hand. There was a puncture at the web of my hand between my thumb and forefinger. It wasn't all that big, but it was pretty deep. I used a handkerchief to soak up the blood and then to protect the wound while using my hiking pole. I continued on until the trail was gone beyond a doubt and I was on a steep hill sideways and the stress on my hand from the pole was making it burn more.

On the way back along the Bronco Trail I encountered several older hikers. It turned out they were all part of a big group, some of which were just hanging out at the trailhead, probably after shorter hikes. I stopped and talked to quite a few of them, both on the trail and at the parking lot.
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Jan 15 2020
LosDosSloFolks
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 Photos 1,182
 Triplogs 72

64 male
 Joined Feb 10 2019
 Cave Creek, Ariz
Cottonwood Trail 247-247A Loop, AZ 
Cottonwood Trail 247-247A Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 15 2020
LosDosSloFolks
Hiking8.12 Miles 1,285 AEG
Hiking8.12 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   1.71 mph
1,285 ft AEG      45 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 no routes
Partners none no partners
We did this same lasso loop almost a year ago to the day. Route is shown in the photoset. This time we went clockwise instead of CCW as before. We knew the gain would be greater this direction but figured it would we spread out over a longer distance so it would be "easier". We were wrong. Miles 3-5 were much tougher than we expected. :( Pretty much the same as climbing Black Mountain, bad tread and all. I guess what I'm saying is CCW is the better way to do this hike IMO.

We started at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and hiked north on FR 48 (aka Maricopa Trail, Spur Cross Trail) to get through the SCRCA and into the Tonto National Forest and to the Skull Mesa Trailhead. Headed east on Cottonwood Trail 247 and at the junction of "alternate 247" we headed south using this cairned shortcut to get to "Unofficial Trail 247A" (HAZ has a guide for this) which returned us to the Mariposa Hill area north of Spur Cross. Came in at just over 8 miles but felt more like 12, but then again, we are the SloFolks. :)

The creek was flowing nicely and the farther north we went the crossings got trickier and trickier. Lots of head scratching as to which rocks to step on or climb over. On our final crossing I learned if my new Lowa boots were indeed waterproof. They are. Some good photos are attached with captions (probably too many) but this area is always beautiful even when it's not at it's greenest and lushest. Fall colors are about gone but it should have some good blooms in a couple of months or even sooner.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
"In beauty happily I walk, With beauty before me I walk, With beauty behind me I walk, With beauty all around me I walk"
Navajo Nightway Chant
Jan 01 2020
Yoder
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 Routes 16
 Photos 1,162
 Triplogs 92

54 male
 Joined Oct 07 2017
 Chandler, AZ
Skull Mesa from Spur Cross THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 01 2020
Yoder
Hiking14.40 Miles 3,375 AEG
Hiking14.40 Miles   8 Hrs   14 Mns   2.13 mph
3,375 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
A couple of weeks ago we did the lower part of this hike to the Cottonwood Trail(#247) intersection via the illegal Mariposa Hill leg and made a loop, using TR 252 on the way back for a 8 mile loop.

The section up to 247 was very reasonable, so we decided to give this a try.

I wanted to also check out the Petroglyphs and Ruins
Started 7am. hike up to Skull mesa was good at about 4 miles in the grade picks up a bit and stays constant until just about peaking out at 5.1 miles. Views were great. We decided to check out the Petroglyphs (N33.93240° W111.92012°). There is no actual trail to the Petrogyphs or Ruins that we could find. It was a general direction wondering, and the ground was quite muddy. We made our way to the Petrogyphs and got some photos, and continued another mile in the direction of the Ruins, (Only about 0.6 miles to go) and decided to turn back..... Wife isn't big on hiking where there are no clear trails, and she was not a happy camper. I decided I wouldn't drag her any further. :(

We headed back, was planing on retracing our way in, but some how I got off track on cottonwood (247). I still don't know how I managed that, it is clear as day. My wife was trailing me a bit, and she noticed it, but assumed I intentionally picked this way. That added another 0.5 miles and is a bit more of a bumpy hike to Cave Creek, not to mention that you have to cross the creek multiple times. Finally got back to the car at 3:11pm.

It's a nice hike, but tuckered me out!
Flora
Flora
Saguaro - Crested
_____________________
J. Yoder
Dec 21 2019
LindaAnn
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 Guides 23
 Routes 360
 Photos 2,693
 Triplogs 1,052

39 female
 Joined Dec 24 2007
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Skull Mesa RuinsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 21 2019
LindaAnn
Hiking14.21 Miles 3,022 AEG
Hiking14.21 Miles   8 Hrs   21 Mns   1.87 mph
3,022 ft AEG      44 Mns Break
 
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Met Laurie at Spur Cross at 0700, and we got started a few minutes later. At Mariposa Hill, we went past the Area Closed sign and took 247A up to Cottonwood, then east on Cottonwood. Saw one deer bounding north not far from the gate.

On the way up to Skull Mesa, I commented to Laurie that I always see campers up top, but that I couldn’t figure out how anyone could camp comfortably in all the rocks and cactus on the mesa. Sure enough, we topped out and saw two tents.

We headed north northwest across the mesa towards the ruins. After a short distance we ran across two guys who weren’t sure of the exact route to take to the ruins, so they ended up joining us on the hike across the mesa. Turns out, they were the campers whose tents we had seen. Lots of tall grass along the top, which obscured a lot of the prickly pear, so it was slow going in a few places.

Once at the ruins, we looked around and took a break, then headed back. Plenty of good conversation to fill the time during our tedious cactus avoidance endeavor. Saw another group of four hikers on our way back across the top. Once back across, we exchanged contact info with the guys before parting ways, then Laurie and I headed back downhill.

Saw group of five hikers on the way back down. Slow through the steep part, plus it was getting warm. Once back down, it was an easy hike retracing our steps back to the trailhead, finishing up a little before 1530. Nice to see Laurie again and good weather for this hike today. Definitely a cooler weather hike; the lack of shade and risk of snakes hidden in the grass up top makes this a hike I would never attempt in warmer weather.
Flora
Flora
Saguaro - Crested
Named place
Named place
Skull Mesa
_____________________
Dec 21 2019
Crzy4AZ
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 Guides 31
 Routes 96
 Photos 2,617
 Triplogs 596

46 female
 Joined Apr 02 2007
 Scottsdale, AZ
Skull Mesa RuinsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 21 2019
Crzy4AZ
Hiking14.21 Miles 3,022 AEG
Hiking14.21 Miles   8 Hrs   21 Mns   1.87 mph
3,022 ft AEG      44 Mns Break
 no routes
My work and kid life schedule is always overbooked and rarely open - - but Linda is a planner - and we set this Saturday to hike somewhere together way back several months ago. I thought I needed to be back home by mid-afternoon to get ready for a holiday party - so we started early at 7 with good bit of wind and we both had ear coverage and light layers on. Linda is a curator of cool gear/outerwear, and I always leave a hike with a shopping list after a hike with her. Loving her wool (bien sur) arm sleeves that allowed her to wear short sleeve shirt and not have to shed a heavy layer couple hours later. Side note: I would make Linda "Wool-kopelli" if I was in charge of such things.

The time-saver route (barely breaking any rules to go 200 ft past sign into Tonto Forest) avoided some AEG - which was fine by me especially on the way back when my toes and knees were ready to be done. We had cloud cover for first hours - then beautiful blue sky. Temperature mid-day was lovely - although I don't have pants that serve as catclaw/cactus protectors AND are lightweight. Drank more water than I expected from being over-layered and used some of Linda's extra stash in the last mile.

Was quite the surprise to pick up the two stray hikers who did not find the ruins. Of course I have sympathy for the disappointment they were feeling before we invited them to follow us. I tried to find the ruins 11 years ago :next: triplog. I see why people would camp and then spend a separate day at the ruins - so much to pour over up there - although camping on the edge of Skull Mesa seems like a windy rough spot.

I saw way more petroglyphs in 2008 than I did yesterday (can I add pics to a photoset from 2008? :lol: :lol: ) but that's probably b/c I was so focused on my own feet and not twisting something or making toes hurt worse. WTH with my toes hurting? Same boots - good socks - same body weight - as usual hiking. Maybe just so much twisty/torque of scrambling or downhill for so long? I wanted a toe-transplant by the last mile. No blisters - and this morning they are fine. Maybe I'm just old and the toes are the canary in the coal mine.

It was a great day outside - super fun as always with Linda - 11 yr closure on ruin finding - and then I ended the day in my jetted tub with AZW beer I picked up (3 yr anniversary cans). Merry Christmas to all! (I swear there was a Christmas tree emjoi smile we used to be able to add???? Reindeer one - what happened to it?)
Culture
Culture
Intrepid Back Shot
Named place
Named place
Cave Creek - SPRCA Skull Mesa
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Oct 23 2019
LJW
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 Photos 329
 Triplogs 146

25 male
 Joined Jun 02 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Quien Sabe PeakPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 23 2019
LJW
Hiking25.02 Miles 5,005 AEG
Hiking25.02 Miles   9 Hrs   39 Mns   2.98 mph
5,005 ft AEG   1 Hour   15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Seems most people add Quien Sabe from the CC4/Skunk Tank loop. That seems like the more enjoyable option compared to adding it to the Skull Mesa/Cottonwood Loop. I had thought it would only add a little mileage and elevation, but that was wrong. This one turned into an ordeal.

Decided that fall colors could wait, and that I would rather hike in the last of summer's residual heat down around Phoenix. Started around 6:15am. Was in the dark or shade until the Skull Mesa turn off. Trail to the top is good, but once on top the trail is harder to follow the closer to Quien Sabe it goes. Plenty of cairns but still easy to get off route. The eastern side of Skull Mesa was alive with wildflowers. The route down on the east side is lost the lower it goes. Pretty well eroded the whole time it's there.

Headed to the pass between Skunk Ridge and Quien Sabe because it looked like the least steep approach. Took off up hill and it was very easy going. Wildflowers were pretty extreme. Stained my boots a bright yellow. Impressive views on the peak, especially of the Mazatzals to the east.

Once off of the Quien Sabe Trail and back onto Skull Mesa, after a while the trail more or less disappeared. Much of the stretch between the Quien Sabe junction and Cottonwood is overgrown, very faint, or gone. Ended up spending a lot of time walking cross country in search of the route. Would not be comfortable doing this part without GPS. Once on the descent to Cottonwood the trail is pretty solid.

The more I do of the Cottonwood Trail the more I like it. Really enjoyable stretches in the creek with a lot of shade in the hottest part of the day. Ran out of water at Cottonwood Spring around the Skull Mesa junction. Last six miles were pretty arduous. Saw a baby rattlesnake in the last thirty yards of the Cottonwood Trail. Only people I saw all day were in the last mile.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Heavy on Skull Mesa, pretty extreme on Quien Sabe Peak


water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Dripping Dripping
Small pools

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dirt Trough Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Puddles
1 archive
Sep 28 2019
LJW
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 Photos 329
 Triplogs 146

25 male
 Joined Jun 02 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Skull Mesa from Spur Cross THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 28 2019
LJW
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,200 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   4 Hrs   35 Mns   2.94 mph
2,200 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Originally wanted to do a loop with Skull Mesa and Cottonwood trails. Went to Spur Cross after work and didn't have enough sunlight or water to get it done starting at 1pm. Attempted to just make it onto Skull Mesa but fell 8/900 ft short.

Spur Cross in passed two groups of hikers. Cottonwood, one group who had gotten an early start on Bronco and did a shuttle between trailheads.

On Skull Mesa Trail I saw three desert tortoises, as well as two rattlesnakes. Nearly stepped on the second one in a moment of dehydrated fatigue. It turned and worked its way under a bush right off the trail where it did some rattling. Running low on water, the snake made it easier to convince myself to turn back.

Saw a half dozen javelina on Cottonwood on the way back as well as what I think was a coral snake by the Spur Cross TH.

Not sure the temps ever made it into the 90s, but the desert and direct sun have a way of making it feel hot.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dirt Trough Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
2 archives
Feb 24 2019
DarthStiller
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 Guides 17
 Routes 266
 Photos 6,417
 Triplogs 469

50 male
 Joined Jul 05 2006
 Mesa, AZ
Skull Mesa Trail #248Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 24 2019
DarthStiller
Hiking8.40 Miles 1,701 AEG
Hiking8.40 Miles   4 Hrs   31 Mns   1.86 mph
1,701 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
My original plan was to hike the new sections of the Hawknest and Latigo Trails in the MSPN that extend to the Pima-Dynamite TH. Once I arrived there, I wasn't very happy to learn that the whole north part of the preserve is closed due to the ground being saturated. My guess this is prevent the trails from getting torn up by the mountain bikes. I spent some time in my car trying to figure out a good place to go that would be open. All the county parks were open, with only restrictions for mountain bikers and horse riders. Spur Cross seemed like the best bet and shortest drive.

Despite the delay, I was the first person at the Spur Cross TH. This lasted about 3 minutes before a swarm of 20-30 cars arrived all at once. Snowbirds. Snowbirds on a group hike. To look at the snow. :doh:

I still wasn't sure where I would go exactly, but I decided to get out of the car and get ready : rambo : . The snowbirds were very loud, and had southern accents. Few things pierce the eardrums worse than the tinny twang of a "Y'all" before 7am. I had to move quickly. High ground seemed like the best idea. It was the area where they were least likely to go.

A group of 20 or more got ahead of me. I was dreading having to wait by the self pay station, but it seems like they didn't bother to stop there. They did, however, stop at the porta potties, where 2 lines had quickly formed. This gave me the opportunity to create some distance between me and them. I was thinking either to try Black Mesa or Skull Mesa. Black Mesa was closer, but I had just hiked some of the trails up to that area 2 months ago with Jim. I was already on a late start, so I wasn't expecting to get all that far. I decided on Skull Mesa, partly because it would provide a quicker route to some solitude and peace, even if it was farther.

I headed over to Mariposa Hill and took the shortcut trail over to the Cottonwood Trail. Cave Creek was flowing and I wasn't sure if it was even passable, so the shortcut was definitely the way to go. Not far in, I arrived at a junction. The left trail headed up to a ridge, the right looked like it descended. :-k I took the left, figuring that was the quicker way. It was, and I later discovered that it's a section of a trail I had never hiked before :y: . The right trail is the way I took when I hiked to the Skull Mesa Ruins 8 years ago.

I hiked about half way up to Skull Mesa by the time I had done 4 miles. With the late start, I would barely be done before noon turning around there, so I decided to do that. The snow was patchy around the trail. Not a whole lot, which is good anyway. I still remember my snow death march in the eastern Supes 12 years ago, so I'm over that.

on the way down, I ran into two women also hiking up to Skull Mesa. They would have likely caught up to me very soon if I hadn't already turned around. We talked briefly about the nice snow scenery, the swarm of snowbirds at the trailhead, and where the various ruins are nearby. They took the same shortcut I did, mainly to avoid Cave Creek, which they said was impassable. I was considering to return that way, so based on their assessment, I decided against that.

Got back to the trailhead by 11:30am, encountering more hikers the closer I got.
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Feb 13 2019
LosDosSloFolks
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 Photos 1,182
 Triplogs 72

64 male
 Joined Feb 10 2019
 Cave Creek, Ariz
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 13 2019
LosDosSloFolks
Hiking9.40 Miles 1,900 AEG
Hiking9.40 Miles
1,900 ft AEG12 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
This is my first post so please excuse any errors in formatting. My wife and I have wanted to visit Cottonwood Springs on Trail 247 for quite some time. With heavy rain expected on Valentines day we set out early morning on 2/13. Good flow in Cave Creek for a scenic trip up to the trailhead but we opted instead to "diagonate" (my made up word) to 247 via 247A at the boundary of the Tonto National Forest and the Spur Cross Recreation Area. We left 247A after a couple of miles and headed north to 247 using a un-named but cairned shortcut we read about on HAZ that saved us a little mileage. Once on top of the ridge line we were greeted with lots and lots of poppy and lupine blooms. I think the display will only get better with all the rain in the forecast. Upon arrival at the gate where Skull Mesa Trail 248 intersects 247 we encountered roughly 100 Canadian Geese headed due west. The decibel level of their honking as they flew directly overhead was deafening. I took a last second photo of them before they went out of sight and will try to post as part of a photoset (if I can figure it out). The descent to the spring showed us more flowers and water flow was more than I have seen in any YouTube video of this site. There was a audible "babble" and a dozen or more flowing pools with a depth of 4-6 inches. We left Cottonwood on 247A to return to the Spur Cross parking lot. This section of the trail was very overgrown with tall grass and assorted weeds for the first 1 1/2 miles and was difficult to follow but after a couple of missteps we got back on track. A good time was had by all!
_____________________
"In beauty happily I walk, With beauty before me I walk, With beauty behind me I walk, With beauty all around me I walk"
Navajo Nightway Chant
3 archives
Feb 10 2019
chumley
avatar

 Guides 75
 Routes 668
 Photos 13,746
 Triplogs 1,460

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Quien sabe peak loop, AZ 
Quien sabe peak loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2019
chumley
Hiking9.48 Miles 2,298 AEG
Hiking9.48 Miles   4 Hrs   3 Mns   2.46 mph
2,298 ft AEG      12 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Needed a quick fix of outside, and having never mountaineered in this area, I decided that today would be a good day for it. Late start, on purpose. Early done. On purpose. A chilly wind made me get the long sleeves out up top.

There was a cairn and a register over on the "wrong" peak just east of the high point. Well, either that or contour lines on topo maps are drawn incorrectly. I generally bet on contour lines over the guy who says "that one looks higher" -- who is usually also the guy who builds the cairns. :sweat:

In any case, I lobbied for an off-trail route down the northeast ridge toward Bluebird spring and the Cottonwood Trail. Once we passed the spot marked "USLM 318" with no sign of a survey marker of any kind, we opted to skip the steep-looking drop to Bluebird and just made a beeline down for Cottonwood. Some pinball with catsclaw, but not much blood was shed and it was quick back to the truck.

Plenty of water in the drainages, (and some icy spots in sheltered areas), soft, muddy trail conditions, and some patches of flowers on the sun facing slopes. Good day!
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Profound observer
Feb 10 2019
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Quien sabe peak loop, AZ 
Quien sabe peak loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2019
John9L
Hiking9.48 Miles 2,298 AEG
Hiking9.48 Miles
2,298 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We were interested in a moderate hike within an hour of town and this one was a good choice. We left Scottsdale around 10:30am and headed for the trailhead. It was a beautiful day out and the road was busy. We arrived at the trailhead and started in by crossing the creek and headed up. It was a consistent climb as we made a steady pace. With some effort we connected on the Quien Sabe Trail. We would parallel the ridge leading to the peak and this worked well. After a mile we headed off trail and climbed for the summit. The going through here went well but careful footing was important. The rock is loose and the area is loaded with lots of unforgiving cacti. We topped out and enjoyed the views. Chumley relocated the summit cairn while I ate lunch.

After we had our fill on the summit, we opted for an off trail route leading to the NE. This turned out to be a good option. It was a shorter route and mostly straightforward. We had to dodge a lot more cacti and dealt with annoying desert scrub bushes. The ground was saturated and this helped with footing. We eventually connected onto the Cottonwood Trail and were back to the car soon after. This was a nice hike and didn't take a all day. Good to get out.
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1 archive
Jan 27 2019
Frostshocknoob
avatar

 Routes 141
 Triplogs 127

31 male
 Joined Sep 05 2014
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Trail Partial, AZ 
Cottonwood Trail Partial, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 27 2019
Frostshocknoob
Hiking8.44 Miles 1,347 AEG
Hiking8.44 Miles   4 Hrs   2 Mns   2.32 mph
1,347 ft AEG      24 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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Jan 23 2019
LosDosSloFolks
avatar

 Photos 1,182
 Triplogs 72

64 male
 Joined Feb 10 2019
 Cave Creek, Ariz
Cottonwood Trail 247-247A Loop, AZ 
Cottonwood Trail 247-247A Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 23 2019
LosDosSloFolks
Hiking8.24 Miles 1,120 AEG
Hiking8.24 Miles
1,120 ft AEG12 LBS Pack
 no routes
Partners none no partners
This hike, as well as our Cottonwood Springs hike posted on 2/13/19 were exploratory and conditioning hikes towards the goal of eventually going up on top of Skull Mesa to check out the views and ruins. We've been to the gate at the 248 junction and it is only 1.1 miles up to the mesa from that point but alas, we are geezers and need to work up to it a couple of times!

We did this as a counter-clockwise loop which starts in earnest just north of the SCRCA in the Tonto National Forest. Parking was at the main Spur Cross lot. After starting out eastbound on 247A we took the un-named but cairned shortcut north to Cottonwood Trail 247. A screenshot of the route will be in the photoset. As mentioned in a previous log this shortcut was posted by several HAZ members and our thanks go out to you folks for the coordinates and route. Instead of heading east at the junction we opted to head west towards Cave Creek and the Skull Mesa and Trail 4 trailhead. This was our first time on this section of 247 and the scenery was fantastic.

After approx. 1 1/2 miles,(I forgot to mark the exact spot) on 247 westbound we came to a spring with a concrete box. This water source was not on any of the three maps we had with us. I'm sure someone knows the name of it and will answer with a reply in this log or photoset. Excellent water flow at this no-name spring but the cement box was filled with dirt and was bone dry. The water was flowing from 50 yards farther up the wash. We used the box as a chair to eat our lunch and take a break. I spied a vague damp spot at the corner of the box and proceeded to dig around with a sharp stick. Inquiring minds... I soon uncovered the end of a pipe clogged with dirt. After removing some dirt, water started to drip out. I found the perfect dead Hackberry branch and used it and it's thorns to pull out all the matted roots and assorted junk from a full 3 feet up the pipe. After some belching sounds (from the pipe), water came pouring out and it soon overflowed the remaining room in the box and went down stream. I'm not volunteering, but it would be a good idea to dig that box out and return it to being a water source for the horsemen and fauna in the area.

After lunch we made it down to the creek to soak our feet and then headed south following the creek back to the parking area. Is it just me or is that section of 48 southbound from the Mariposa Hill turnoff to the lot getting longer and longer??? :pout: Every time I return this way (no matter the length of the hike) it turns into some sort of Bataan Death March. There is something about that section of road that causes one of my upper-left quad muscles to stop firing completely. Time to find a specific exercise I suppose.
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"In beauty happily I walk, With beauty before me I walk, With beauty behind me I walk, With beauty all around me I walk"
Navajo Nightway Chant
1 archive
Jan 21 2019
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 32
 Photos 2,244
 Triplogs 1,108

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 21 2019
mazatzal
Hiking9.90 Miles 1,120 AEG
Hiking9.90 Miles
1,120 ft AEG
 no routes
A little chilly when the breeze kicked up. Only saw a couple of people on our way back along trail 4
Good flow in Cave Creek.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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2 archives
Jan 12 2019
DixieFlyer
avatar

 Guides 20
 Routes 283
 Photos 3,647
 Triplogs 259

male
 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon, AZ 
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 12 2019
DixieFlyer
Hiking15.10 Miles 3,075 AEG
Hiking15.10 Miles   8 Hrs   40 Mns   2.56 mph
3,075 ft AEG   2 Hrs   46 Mns Break
 
I took a few people on this hike that I had done a few weeks ago.

We made a loop out of the hike, starting and ending at the Spur Cross TH. We started out on the Spur Cross Trail, and about the time we got to the Tonto National Forest we made a short off-trail jaunt to hit Trail 247A, and then made our way up to Skull Mesa. After traversing the mesa to get to the fort ruins on the NW side of the mesa, we descended from the ruins down the east side of the mesa, and angled our way north and then west until we got to Cave Creek Trail #4. On the way back we stopped off at the Rim of Chalk Canyon to see some pueblo ruins, and then dropped down into the Canyon to check out some petroglyphs and metates.

Compared to the "standard" out-and-back route to the ruins, I'd estimate that this route was 2.5 miles shorter and had 800'-900' less elevation gain.

I found 3 geocache containers on the mesa.
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I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of starvation.
Dec 05 2018
DixieFlyer
avatar

 Guides 20
 Routes 283
 Photos 3,647
 Triplogs 259

male
 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon, AZ 
Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 05 2018
DixieFlyer
Hiking18.10 Miles 3,500 AEG
Hiking18.10 Miles   10 Hrs   15 Mns   2.41 mph
3,500 ft AEG   2 Hrs   44 Mns Break
 
I had been to Skull Mesa and Chalk Canyon 3 times each but I had never done both on the same hike. So I talked Tracie into going on this hike with me in order to rectify that situation.

We started at the Spur Cross TH, and took the Spur Cross Trail into the Tonto National Forest. Once there, we went off trail for a bit to get on a use trail that connects with Cottonwood Trail #247 about a mile west from where the Cottonwood Trail meets Skull Mesa Trail #248. I had noticed that lindaagm came back this way from Skull Mesa, and I used her route to get over to this trail. I like this way much better than continuing on the Spur Cross Trail until it hits Cave Creek Trail #4, and from there taking the Cottonwood Trail all the way over to Skull Mesa Trail #248. The use trail was easy to follow, and I thought that it was a better trail than Cave Creek Trail #4, which I took on the way back.

Once we got to Skull Mesa Tail #248 we took it up to the mesa. It was a bit steep, but there are lots of switchbacks on the steeper sections, so the ascent wasn't bad at all. Once we got to the overlook, I looked to the east and could see some places that were obviously at a higher elevation than where we were at the overlook on the SW side of the mesa. My GPS measured the overlook at 4,260'. So we went about 1.25 miles to what I think is the high point of the mesa on the SE side of the mesa. My GPS measured 4,570', whereas the high point is supposed to be 4,595'. The altimeter in my GPS isn't 100% precise, and since I did not see any other points higher than where we were, I am going to declare victory on being at the high point of Skull Mesa.

We then went from the SE part of the mesa over to the NW corner of the mesa to the Indian Ruins. The traverse wasn't bad, although I did manage to get some prickly pear spines in the side of my shoes a couple of times. Along the way we came across some metates on the mesa (N33.93712° W111.92183°).

The fort ruins are impressive imho and are well worth the trip to see them.

On the way back, rather than going all the way back across the mesa, we dropped down to the east of the fort ruins. The slope there looked forgiving, and it turned out do be decent descent. We angled down first to the north and then to the west -- we hit Cave Creek Trail #4 in about 0.6 miles. The only problem is that after angling down the hill, my left leg is now shorter than my right one!

We took Cave Creek Trail #4 until we turned off to go the rim of Chalk Canyon and check out the petroglyphs and pueblo ruins there. Then we descended down into Chalk Canyon and saw a few more petroglyphs and metates. Then we continued south on the trail that took us to the Skull Mesa TH, and then went back to the Spur Cross TH. Once we got back into the Spur Cross Preserve, we took the Metate Trail back to the TH -- I much prefer the Metate Trail to the Spur Cross Trail.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
There were a few wildflowers blooming: brittle bush; turpentine bush; and globemallow, among others
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I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of starvation.
Dec 02 2018
Tough_Boots
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

41 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 02 2018
Tough_Boots
Hiking10.42 Miles 1,899 AEG
Hiking10.42 Miles   4 Hrs   33 Mns   2.39 mph
1,899 ft AEG      11 Mns Break
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Nice chilly day. Didn't see anyone else on the trails.
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"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
Nov 30 2018
KBKB
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 Guides 3
 Routes 22
 Photos 2,169
 Triplogs 233

58 male
 Joined Apr 22 2012
 Fountain Hills,
Cave Creek / Skunk Tank LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 30 2018
KBKB
Hiking10.67 Miles 2,060 AEG
Hiking10.67 Miles   5 Hrs   28 Mns   2.49 mph
2,060 ft AEG   1 Hour   11 Mns Break24 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Heather and Marilyn joined me for a hike of the Cave Creek / Skunk Tank Loop.

Heather and I hiked the loop clockwise, while Marilyn did an out and back of Cave Creek #4, (re)joining us on the way back.

We had originally planned to go to Spur Cross, but I know from experience that it's miserable there when wet due to the clay trails. The trails were still sticky in a few spots in the Seven Springs area, but most sections had either a covering of rock or sand or just non-sticky dirt. There was still just enough of the sticky clay about that I needed to hose our shoes down when we got home.

The creek was flowing, the water was clear, and the trees were sporting their fall colors. It's very pretty out there now.
Fauna
Fauna
Red Spotted Toad
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average hiking speed 2.31 mph
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