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Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave Creek - 13 members in 34 triplogs have rated this an average 3.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Feb 13 2019
LosDosSloFolks
avatar

 Photos 528
 Triplogs 31

64 male
 Joined Feb 10 2019
 Cave Creek, Ariz
Cottonwood Trail #247Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 13 2019
LosDosSloFolks
Hiking10.20 Miles 1,900 AEG
Hiking10.20 Miles
1,900 ft AEG12 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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
1 archive
Jan 27 2019
gad38
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 5
 Photos 61
 Triplogs 14

64 male
 Joined Jan 21 2018
 Scottsdale
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 27 2019
gad38
Hiking4.05 Miles 363 AEG
Hiking4.05 Miles   1 Hour   33 Mns   2.67 mph
363 ft AEG      2 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Hiked opposite direction up Spur Cross to spot where I lost Trail last week after finishing Limestone Spring Trail from West to East.
Mar 17 2018
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 71
 Photos 5,352
 Triplogs 671

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Skull Mesa RuinsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 17 2018
Nightstalker
Hiking18.10 Miles 4,088 AEG
Hiking18.10 Miles   11 Hrs   21 Mns   2.04 mph
4,088 ft AEG   2 Hrs   29 Mns Break17 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Prepping for a Grand Canyon hike at the end of the month, I finally crossed this one off my list. I was joined today by harem regulars Carey and Pammy. We followed the Cottonwood Spring Loop counter-clockwise out to Skull Mesa. We encountered some campers near the Skull Mesa / Cottonwood intersection who were also destined for the ruins at the far end of the mesa. Once we got to the top of Skull Mesa, we mistakenly continued to follow trail #248 east until we realized we were going in the wrong direction. No big deal, we worked our way back to our desired route. Not much of any trail to follow across the top of Skull Mesa to get out to the ruins. We had a great time exploring the ruins and enjoying the views before making our way back to Cottonwood Trail. We followed Cottonwood Trail all the way back to Spur Cross and then returned to much desired parking lot. This was my longest duration, longest distance, and greatest AEG hike! Can't wait to beat it.
Culture
Culture
Balloon

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Dripping Dripping
Water present

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dirt Trough Creek Light flow Light flow
Slight running water and small pools
_____________________
Mar 02 2018
kingsnake
avatar

 Guides 83
 Routes 184
 Photos 7,987
 Triplogs 639

57 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2018
kingsnake
Hiking10.33 Miles 1,835 AEG
Hiking10.33 Miles   4 Hrs   29 Mns   2.30 mph
1,835 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I hiked the loop clockwise.

I saw two deer near the FR 48 corral, three javelina above Cottonwood Spring, and zero snakes — which is a rarity as the Spur Cross area is riddled with rattlers. 🐍

There’s been a fair amount of recent trail maintenance on Cottonwood Trail #247: Grass trimmed, palo verde cut back, tread scrapped, diversions around eroded sections, and even several switchbacked reroutes (one a quarter mile of new trail).

I’ve spotted at least four crested saguaro in the Spur Cross area, including two today. The first crested saguaro I saw today was 4.7 miles into the hike, while crossing a wash just below the counterweighted gate. I’ve been by that spot twice and never noticed it before. (The price I pay for keeping my eyes down, looking for snakes.)

Cottonwood Spring had puddles, and maybe a slight trickle. It was as shady as ever, and the hanging coffee can was still there. That thing might predate Arizona’s statehood. 😁

I was going to take a break in the Cottonwood Spring oasis, but forgot because I was so into shooting my hiking video 📽: [ youtube video ] .

After relaxing at Cottonwood Spring, my recommendation is that you head back the way you came: Trail #247A is rocky, and overgrown with brush. It’s obvious no maintenance has been done on it in years. When Trail #247A hit the private property fence, it disappeared. I don't remember that happening in 2012: [ photoset ] . Not feeling like heading 6.5 miles back the way I came, I began bushwhacking along the fence line, heading down into washes, then up over ridges.

Just over the first ridge, I discovered my second crested saguaro of the day. :y:

After a mile of bushwhacking, I connected back up with what I believed to be Trail #247A. Subsequent sat view analysis shows the trail I got on heads northeast, to connect with Cottonwood Trail #247 near Rock Tank Spring, not east towards Trail #247A at the “do not enter” signs.

Etc, etc, back to the trailhead.
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Jan 20 2018
The_Eagle
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 Guides 5
 Routes 792
 Photos 9,159
 Triplogs 1,080

63 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus, AZ 
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 20 2018
The_Eagle
Hiking13.05 Miles 2,327 AEG
Hiking13.05 Miles   5 Hrs   55 Mns   2.33 mph
2,327 ft AEG      19 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
This was plan B for the day.
Some of my relatives had the first area closed because they needed some "Privacy" while making little Eagles.

So after some conversation, we headed over to Spur Cross and did this loop.

Temps dropped a bit during the hike and we got a steady drizzle starting around 9:15, but we never got the 30mph gusts that were forecast. This is an enjoyable loop on some new sections of trail for me. Cottonwood Spring (the southwestern most, there are 3 in the area) had plenty of water to filter from. There was some plastic pipe, a shovel and pitch fork in the area also.

We hopped into Cottonwood Creek (Dry) for some splorin'. There were a couple of interesting rocky areas. We decided to go up to the next Cottonwood Spring. There was no sign of a spring that we found, but we caught the Cottonwood #247 here to turn around.

Ran into a a couple of other hikers out there prior to hitting the Metate Trail to check out the Huge Saguaros.

Flora
Flora
Saguaro - Crested

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout Plenty to filter from

dry Cottonwood Spring Dry Dry
Could find no flow or sign of a spring from this Cottonwood Spring. The other one in the area had plenty of flow.
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There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
1 archive
Jan 20 2018
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,287

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus, AZ 
Cottonwood Spring Loop Plus, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 20 2018
joebartels
Hiking12.75 Miles 2,260 AEG
Hiking12.75 Miles   5 Hrs   55 Mns   2.28 mph
2,260 ft AEG      19 Mns Break5 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
247A is signed closed on the near end, which resides inside Spur Cross. The trail is in good shape and well used. To be legal simply hike 0.15 mi further on #4 to the forest boundary where off-designated-trail travel is legal. BTW proposed fee increases on Feb 21st might go live April 1st. If you support this forest buffer not keeping good trails open and charging you more... do absolutely nothing and you help seal the deal.

This wasn't the planned hike and I'm not a huge fan of this area. Which aside from despising the access stems heavily on wet hikes across Skull Mesa. Once again this desert dweller enters the area on a friggen rainy day... bah humbug

The mountain views along this moderate loop are fab. Due to our abbreviated plans Bruce suggested we head out a little further on #247. Passing a side canyon I through out a prayer we explore the narrow looking canyon. Boy howdy did we get lucky! An intriguing stretch flash rocked our peptides.

Then onwards to another Cottonwood Spring. Interesting 2 share the same name within a mile on the same 7.5 topo New River Mesa.

Bruce had the foresight to finish with Metate/Towhee. Which should be a given for every hike in the area. The area is as dry as I've seen. The wild cucumber that arches over Towhee is currently a dry brittle salad.
Named place
Named place
Metate Pond

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout At least a quart per min, looks good too

dry Cottonwood Spring Dry Dry
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout Area is dry... it is sprinkling right NOW if you hurry!
_____________________
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
Jan 07 2018
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 338
 Photos 6,903
 Triplogs 803

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 07 2018
BiFrost
Hiking9.35 Miles 1,960 AEG
Hiking9.35 Miles   4 Hrs   16 Mns   2.39 mph
1,960 ft AEG      21 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners partners
John9L
Tough_Boots
Joined John and Kyle on easy loop from Spur Cross. We followed trail up Cave Creek to the Cottonwood Trail turnoff then it's up to the base climb of Skull Mesa. There was brief talk of adding on Skull Mesa but decided to pass this time. Took quick break at the junction and then dropped down to Cottonwood Spring. Took a longer break at the spring. Plenty of water at this reliable spring and have yet to see it anywhere close to dry.

After that we headed back to the trailhead finishing out the loop. Nice easy Sunday hike!!
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
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1 archive
Dec 29 2017
kaiboxer
avatar

 Photos 3
 Triplogs 19

45 male
 Joined Sep 12 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 29 2017
kaiboxer
Backpack9.40 Miles 1,900 AEG
Backpack9.40 Miles   6 Hrs   39 Mns   1.41 mph
1,900 ft AEG   16 Hrs    Break36 LBS Pack
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Wow! This hike took its pound of flesh. The southern portion of the trail is VERY overgrown and my arms and legs have the Arizona pinstripes to prove it. On the map, it didn't look like there was as much continuous elevation change as there was, but it was like hiking on a roller coaster. It probably wouldn't have been a concern if we were doing the loop as a day hike without the 30+ pound packs.

We camped in the corral that is Southeast of Cottonwood Spring, and it was an amazing night. It was comforting to have barbed wire surrounding you when you know there are big cats about.

Sights along the trail going clockwise: crested Saguaro to the north when you cross Cave Creek (about 4 miles in), a few five inch mountain lion prints near the spring (unfortunately my hiking companion took the picture and he hasn't shared it yet), leaves STILL changing on the cottonwoods along the spring, and a group of five adult, and four baby javalinas on the southern path.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Dripping Dripping
There were a couple of puddles deep enough to filter. Water was flowing slowly for about 20 feet above ground. They tank is empty, and repair work seems to be at a standstill.
_____________________
4 archives
Feb 25 2016
RowdyandMe
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 Guides 6
 Routes 358
 Photos 14,460
 Triplogs 1,630

65 male
 Joined Jul 16 2012
 Deer Valley, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 25 2016
RowdyandMe
Hiking9.48 Miles 1,809 AEG
Hiking9.48 Miles   4 Hrs   57 Mns   2.15 mph
1,809 ft AEG      32 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
What a beautiful for a hike. This was my first time doing this hike and I looked up a few gps routes for this one and I have to say I like GPS Joes the best and that's what I used.
I crossed Cottonwood Creek six times and Rowdy walked across in the water six times. Lot of great views out here and lots of green grass growing. I really did not see much as in birds or lizards but lots of bees.
I did encounter a really nice Crested Saguaro on this hike.
I remember telling Linda how I have never seen a Javelina before until my last hike a Chalk Canyon. Well do today I got the :pk: scared out of me. Rowdy and I were about 2.5 miles from the trailhead heading back. It was really quiet and peaceful and as we were walking all at once the bush right next to us something jumped out and dirt was flying everywhere. I wasn't sure what it was other than it was big and made the ground shake. We hiked a few feet more and all over again it happened. We had Javelinas all around us and Rowdy was ready to get one. I called him back and he stayed next to me I counted 7 but I know I miss a few. I am guessing at least a dozen including babies.

I knew it would be warm out today so I carried all the water and put Rowdy's cooling jacket on him and it made a big difference.
Flora
Flora
Saguaro - Crested
Fauna
Fauna
Javelina
Named place
Named place
Dirt Trough Creek Skull Mesa

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Creek Light flow Light flow

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

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Rock Tank Spring Dripping Dripping
_____________________
Rowdy and Widowmaker
1 archive
Feb 13 2016
rcorfman
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 Guides 1
 Routes 82
 Photos 1,282
 Triplogs 802

59 male
 Joined Oct 17 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Creek LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 13 2016
rcorfman
Hiking12.43 Miles 2,926 AEG
Hiking12.43 Miles   6 Hrs   27 Mns   2.27 mph
2,926 ft AEG      58 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
Partners none no partners
I parked at the Spur Cross parking area and got ready to start my hike. For some reason, I forgot to bring my hat so I slathered the sunscreen on my head where the hair is not so thick anymore.

It was a lazy morning so it was about 10 when I got on the trail. There were some hosts at the entry station where I paid the entrance fee. They were selling hats but I didn't have enough cash, so I just continued on hatless.

I did the clockwise tramp on the Cottonwood loop. There were several people out but they thinned out quickly once I crossed Cave Creek a couple of times.

As I neared the cutoff to Skull Mesa, I met two men coming the other way. They said they had already been up on the mesa and were heading to a wash and taking it back instead of the trail. They mentioned a route was probably on HAZ. I probably should have asked for their names. A short distance further, I passed three women who had also been up on the mesa.

I think allergies were bugging me because my left sinus was runny and my left eye was watering and hurting. It made it difficult to hike. On the way up to the mesa, I had to stop because I couldn't keep my eye open. I rested and ate and drank and cooled down. Getting the sweat to stop dripping in my eye really helped. From then on I hiked steady but easy so as to keep the sweating to a minimum.

Once on Skull Mesa, I went and found geocache, Explore the Wilderness 6 - Skull Mesa, then turned back and down the hill and back to the Cottonwood trail. My eye was bothering me a lot again, and when I came to Cottonwood Spring I stopped for a break. The stream was flowing lightly and I washed my face and ate and cooled off again before continuing. I had to stop one other time to tend to my eye before I made it back to my truck.

The eye problems were disappointing but I did enjoy the hike. The dessert is nice and green now and the hiking was good.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
_____________________
Go find a LonelyCache
Mar 07 2015
hikerdw
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 Routes 130
 Photos 2,263
 Triplogs 357

60 male
 Joined Aug 16 2009
 Mesa,AZ
Cottonwood Elephant Loop, AZ 
Cottonwood Elephant Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 07 2015
hikerdw
Hiking14.25 Miles 3,051 AEG
Hiking14.25 Miles   6 Hrs   22 Mns   2.54 mph
3,051 ft AEG      46 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Nice loop hike with some decent AEG. We started early at 6:30. All the trails we hiked on were in great shape and easy to follow. Had lunch near Limestone Spring, which also had a lot of bees nearby so we kept our distance as to not disturb. It started to warm up in the early afternoon so the short hike on Dragonfly Trail along the tree lined creek provided some welcomed shade.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Nice flow.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Limestone Spring - Spur Cross Quart per minute Quart per minute
The trough was full and I could hear water running but since there were bees the source was not viewed.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Page Spring - Spur Cross Quart per minute Quart per minute
Trough was full.
_____________________
Nov 09 2014
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,074

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 09 2014
mazatzal
Hiking9.40 Miles 1,900 AEG
Hiking9.40 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   1.94 mph
1,900 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 no routes
A nice loop out at Spur Cross, a little warm.

Spur Cross :next: Metate :next: Towhee :next: Spur Cross :next: Cottonwood 247A :next: Cottonwood 247B :next: Cottonwood 247 :next: Spur Cross

Parts of 247 are unbelievably eroded - I guess from all the storms. One section of trail is a 4-5 foot deep trench below the sides :o

Near the concrete trough along 247 there used to be a windmill but it's gone now. I might have found an old piece of it a short way down the creek.

There were a lot of people at the trailhead but once in the Tonto NF we only saw 1 person.
Named place
Named place
Dirt Trough Creek
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
1 archive
Aug 04 2014
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 71
 Photos 5,352
 Triplogs 671

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 04 2014
Nightstalker
Hiking10.80 Miles 2,027 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles   5 Hrs   36 Mns   2.17 mph
2,027 ft AEG      38 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Wow! What a great loop! I was thinking that today would be a good day to do a long loop close to home. Well, I think I underestimated the heat factor. It got wicked hot! Temps started at 72 and ended at 98. Humidity was oppressive! Burned through my 3 liter pack before returning to the trailhead, which I hardly ever run out before the end. Regardless, that 247 trail is awesome! Winding in and out and up and down and through gates and along gates. Faint at spots, rocky, washed out, and overgrown, it really feels like wilderness! Great views of Skull Mesa and New River Mesa all along the way. I can't wait for the temps to come down so I can return to do Skull Mesa!
Fauna
Fauna
Velvet Mite
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light


water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute

_____________________
Jan 06 2014
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 186
 Photos 8,027
 Triplogs 213

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 06 2014
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking9.50 Miles 2,125 AEG
Hiking9.50 Miles   5 Hrs   48 Mns   2.24 mph
2,125 ft AEG   1 Hour   34 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
It’s a good thing I like roller coasters, as portions of this hike simulate the ride.
Alot of ridges and washes are crossed while on your way down the various trails that make up this lasso loop track. Skull Mesa is almost always in view (that’s a good thing :) ), and views of Elephant Mountain are plentiful during the first and last portion of the hike (another good thing).
In fact, the views from northwest through northeast are excellent throughout the hike.

The saguaro cactus are amazingly healthy along the track. Many young saguaros appear to be vying for their own little ‘space-in-the-sun’. There was a bit of water in Cave Creek, and some of the many washes crossed were a bit moist. Cottonwood Spring was ‘spongy’ to hike through also.

All the trails were in very good shape. There’s an abundance of gates and signage along the tracks, some in places I wouldn’t expect them. Some signage is for nearby private property, with the rest attempting to keep you aware of your location. However, I was glad to have my GPS confirm some of the ‘trail-to-next-trail’ turn-points. (No signage at some of those points).
I had made GPS waypoints to make sure we stayed on course, as it’s not fun to hike along thinking you might be heading to ‘parts unknown’. Long live trip planning.

Except for seeing a couple of far-away predator birds soaring (looking for lunch ?), the only ‘animal’ I saw was Mike, my hike-mate. All ‘fauna’ must have been sleeping, hiding, hibernating, underground, or just plain bashful.
Too bad for them- they missed a nice day. :)
Culture
Culture
Spring Box
Named place
Named place
Cottonwood Spring Skull Mesa
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Jan 04 2014
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

45 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Spring Loop, AZ 
Skull Mesa - Cottonwood Spring Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 04 2014
slowandsteady
Hiking16.30 Miles 3,890 AEG
Hiking16.30 Miles   8 Hrs   34 Mns   2.28 mph
3,890 ft AEG   1 Hour   25 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
We were wondering what and where to hike, something challenging yet not too far away, since the playoffs would be on. Tibber took me on the Cottonwood Spring Loop recently, so Skull Mesa has been on my mind to hike.

When we started on the Skull Mesa trail we walked into a good size group of javalina. They scattered but the trail was curvy, so one huffed at us a few times before deciding we could pass. The trail up to the Mesa is in pretty good shape. It has switch backs, but they don't mess around, they get the job done. Hiking on top of the mesa was fun...and much easier than hiking on a ridgeline, I'd like more of those, please. We had lunch with an awesome view and headed down.

Like the write ups say, the trail gets pretty faded in spots, but there are cairns and Karl was using the GPS. Once you get back to the Cottonwood trail, the trail is in primo shape again. We took another break at the spring. Then we hightailed it back to the car because we had a couple of Mexican Cokes waiting. I'll move faster for some sugary goodness!
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Dec 21 2013
tibber
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 Guides 21
 Routes 576
 Photos 25,752
 Triplogs 845

64 female
 Joined Feb 26 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 21 2013
tibber
Hiking9.70 Miles 2,165 AEG
Hiking9.70 Miles   5 Hrs   49 Mns   2.03 mph
2,165 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
slowandsteady
While Karl was away on the MotherLode, Kathy wanted to do a little something; probably so she wouldn't have to stay home and worry. There were lots of choices but we opted for Spur Cross. It was somewhat sunny when we left my house but as we drove toward Cave Creek the cloud cover got lower and even more so once we hit the TH. And yep, it was cold. We donned our hat and gloves, gave our entrance fee to the volunteers and headed on out.

At first I thot I had taken the wrong road as it's been awhile since I've been on this road, but I was correct. It was muddy in areas so we had to walk lightly. The cloud cover made for some interesting morning photos and it seemed quite dreary really. Haven't used the word dreary in quite some time so I had to look it up to make sure I spelled it right. As we crossed Cottonwood Wash, we heard coyotes so we stopped to listen and I actually got their voices recorded :) (see video 1). I decided we should hike this clockwise because I at least knew we could find the signage to turn at 247 but had no idea where 247a came out at; however, I was constantly curious as to where it came back to the Spur Cross Road.

We continued our hike along the dry Cave Creek. Not one crossing with water. And that last crossing before heading toward the horse corral area was as flat as a pancake. No rocks or shrubbery or anything :o in Cave Creek. It was quite bizarre to me. I had never hiked the area when there wasn't any water in the creek. After the horse corral it was all new territory to me. We were following along what they called FS 48. Very shortly after the corral area, I spotted the Skull Mesa TH sign across the creek.

It was interpreting the sign that presented a problem. The hike desc says go straight but straight on the sign shows further up 48 and then hang a right. For clarification, at the sign, straight is east, altho we got a nice picture as we went up 48 for just a bit ;) . And 500 feet later you hit the intersection with 247. FYI Bruce, I did employ Scout II for assistance. The sign there says 2 miles to Cottonwood Spring but we would learn that meant 2 miles to the place where they decided to put the sign for Cottonwood Spring (which was another mile to go from there).

First, the trail condition is really super. There really is only one section between Skull Mesa intersection and heading down toward Cottonwood Spring that is like hiking on parts of the 252 over in Spur Cross where it's hard to see where the trail goes and it's a bit rocky. And there are parts going on 247a where the trail is a bit faint and rocky as well. However, for the steeper hills, the trail is a pleasant surprise.
Second, this is some roller coaster ride of a hike. The first section is where you get the most thrills going up the bigger hills :sweat: and the back section is the smaller hills. But it is a constant up and down pretty much the whole way.
Third, you cross through several fenced areas.
Fourth, there are many, many saguaros and many, many huge sagauros.

Today views of Skull Mesa and New River Mesa would come in and out of the clouds. Oh, and if you think you know where the trail might be going, we found ourselves wrong on our guesses a few times. Looking across from above the Rock Tank (did have water in the tank and a slow drip from pipe - there is also a recording camera there) area, it looks like the trail takes you straight up the hill but instead it veers northeast. Soon we would see a nice camping area and then we were hiking on a bit of a ridge line. And coming upon the Red Wall of Cave Creek is pretty cool. Photos can't really do it justice.

At 10:45 we reached the 2 mile Cottonwood Springs sign (from the Skull Mesa TH). We started at 8:20 or so from Spur Cross and didn't take any kind of break until the Spring at 11:30. We found that anytime we stopped, we got chilled rather quickly. A little before 11 we hit the Skull Mesa intersection. A person could spend a lot of time here just reading all the signs :lol: . Once again the trail got a little muddy but not too bad.

We came to this one area where you could look high above the drainage and I saw a photo op. Glad I did as Kathy spotted the crested saguaro. I knew to look for it but not where. FYI - as you get down the hill from the Cottonwood Spring sign, there is a section that skirts a hill with a wide berth above the high drainage, it is in the drainage to the left (NE of the rock outcropping you stand on).

Next up was Cottonwood Spring. The :FG: were on display as we dropped down to the spring. There was a little water here, enough to filter anyway. We didn't see the can on the tree but there are two large cairns marking the way for 247a (which is to the right (NW) and up the hill). It looks like there is a bit of a trail that continues straight too. Here we decided to have a quick break as it didn't seem too cold. While sitting I spotted the can down in some brush. I had gpsjoe's pic http://hikearizona.com/photo=120402 with me so I put the can back in the position per that picture.

Finally the sun was coming thru and as we headed up the hill, Kathy flushed out a big owl. Didn't get a real good look so it might have been some other big bird. It's fun climbing up from the spring and with the sun coming out, it was even better. We got some nice unhindered views of Skull Mesa as we headed west. Once to the top of the area, we encountered another fence. It looks like there had been two gates, a wooden one and a wire one. However, the prickly pear had totally taken over both of these gates that had been put over to the side. Which begs the question, how fast does a prickly pear cactus grow :-k ? From what I gather 10-20 pads per year... Of course we found the old sign on the ground and off to the side that said please close the gate, ha!

The light was making everything look so crisp and colorful; especially the green of the cactus and flora to the reds, yellow and browns of the soil. We did notice during parts of our hike the very white tops of the saguaros. I thot it was new growth but I don't really know. I did get one close up picture. We continued on our way and as we rounded this one side of a hill, we saw a complete change of scenery that included many yuccas and resurrection trees. It was really something (north exposure). And then as soon as we left that side we were back to normal vegetation. Altho Kathy did spot an ocotillo that had all these small curved branches with new growth on it; very odd for an ocotillo.

Much to our chagrin we continued the roller coaster action down and up drainages. We would try to guess where the trail would go but for the most part we were wrong :lol: as we would end up climbing again. I kept thinking we would end up coming out by the cattle guard/FS boundary area. We did pass by what I call a saguaro wanna-be-palm-tree as it was growing with a small bend in the bottom of its trunk. Another one had a blow out toward the bottom of its trunk. We also passed over this most interesting rock that would crumple in your hands when you picked it up.... must have been some sort of compressed sand. Anyway, it was 8) to break it up in your hands (see video 4 I think).

We eventually ended up on a road of some sort. There is a view point you can take before continuing on the road which eventually veers to the west and joins up with Spur Cross Road less than a mile from the TH. There are two white boulders at this junction but nothing to indicate it's 247a. Not too far from the TH Kathy spotted some deer looking at us. Probably 1/2 dozen including two littler ones. They all looked healthy. I got several pics but one is really good I think. Of course, the sun was NOW finally out in almost full force as we completed our hike.

We finished the day at El Encanto. It is a wonderful way to wind down 2013. Like many others, Kathy slows down her pace to allow me to be in Tibbermode so thank you. I did a few movies since this is a new area for me. Plus, there isn't much on the internet at all about this awesome loop. Definitely would not want to do it in warmer temps though.

Video 1 from TH toward Rock Tank: http://youtu.be/zaCkhHirlKg
Video 2 from Rock Tank area to Cottonwood Springs area: http://youtu.be/NCi25GZa4AY
Video 3 didn't upload successfully, will try again this evening 12/23/2013, now available 12/26/2013 http://youtu.be/0rj7_PngD_w
Video 4 is pending upload to youtube 12/24/2013, now available 12/26/2013: http://youtu.be/P9nIY1kw164
Fauna
Fauna
Mule Deer
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated


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

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Rock Tank Spring Dripping Dripping
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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.
Dec 21 2013
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

45 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 21 2013
slowandsteady
Hiking9.70 Miles 2,165 AEG
Hiking9.70 Miles   5 Hrs   49 Mns   2.03 mph
2,165 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
tibber
It's hard to get out of the summer habit of having to start early to beat the heat. We were ready to start hiking at 8:15 AM, and it was dreary out and pretty brisk. I guess we could have slept in a bit more!

Each time we went up, we'd think that was the last up....until the next and then then next. :sl: We entertained ourselves by guessing the direction the trail might take. We also found we have pretty short attention spans.

I may need to do more hikes in Cave Creek because you get El Encanto afterwards!
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Mar 17 2013
mt98dew
avatar

 Guides 16
 Routes 19
 Photos 398
 Triplogs 1,454

50 male
 Joined Oct 24 2010
 Phoenix,Az
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 17 2013
mt98dew
Hiking9.27 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking9.27 Miles   3 Hrs   15 Mns   2.85 mph
2,000 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Started off great even before I started hiking. On the drive out to the Spur Cross TH, (just prior to where the dirt road takes over) encountered 3 doe and a fawn standing by the side of the road :) . Must be getting old because when I got out of the car to start my hike (around 8am) I actually felt chilled by the early morning breeze :( . That didn't last as I started the hike. Cave creek was flowing, but not as heavily as I anticipated. I didn't have any problems negotiating the stream the 3-4 times that I needed to to get back to the Cottonwood Trail 247. This was my first time heading in on the Cottonwood. All prior hikes I had used the Cottonwood Trail as an exit route. I got to appreciate the uphill nature of the trail from this direction and at the same time got a great view of Skull Mesa. Took the trail to Cottonwood Spring, which was flowing barely. And in route came across a lone javelina. Took, what is being referred to as the 247A back to the Spur Cross Trail. This trail was easy to follow and well used. On my way out I encountered two separate threesomes of horse riders and a couple of hikers to boot. My GPS showed that it was 5.4 in on the Spur/Cottonwood247 and 4.7 out on the Spur/247A. So I saved a little under a mile with this side trail. Noticed the new side trail, 247B, as described by Matazal. Did not take it, but will check it out on future hikes.

Weather was great. Flowers were FANTASTIC!! And the crowds were out to enjoy it.
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Feb 10 2013
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,074

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2013
mazatzal
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   2.40 mph
2,100 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routes
I took the alternate Cottonwood trail 247A . After about a mile on this trail there is a small cairn with a stick pointing left. I guess this can be called alternate Cottonwood trail #2 247B? It traverses a small ridge and intersects Cottonwood just below 3000'. This route saves a mile or probably more to this point along cottonwood. Lots of glyphs after this point all the way to the mesa. Didn't go across the Mesa to the ruins/fort but I did wander around the southern and western edges a bit and saw a few things ;)
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Feb 09 2013
hikerdw
avatar

 Routes 130
 Photos 2,263
 Triplogs 357

60 male
 Joined Aug 16 2009
 Mesa,AZ
Cottonwood Spring Loop - Cave CreekPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 09 2013
hikerdw
Hiking16.40 Miles 3,766 AEG
Hiking16.40 Miles   7 Hrs   36 Mns   2.48 mph
3,766 ft AEG      59 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We hiked option 2 as described in the hike description by GPSJoe. This was the first time in the area and the weather, fog and snow, added to the adventure on this day. The route finding was a little difficult on the mesa due to the weather and then again just before you make the major drop down to the creek due to the trail markers, or lack of I should say. I was glad I had loaded GPSJoe's route into the GPS as I used it a lot on this trip in those areas. Great hike and we plan on a return trip on a clear day to check out the views.
Named place
Named place
Rock Tank Spring

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Creek Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Steady flow.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Rock Tank Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Nice flow into the trough, which was full.
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average hiking speed 2.25 mph
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