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Monday, December 22, 2008

SPUR CROSS RUINS

SPUR CROSS RUINS Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area Maricopa County Parks To the untrained eye, the desert hillsides that flank Cave Creek stand in an awesome, yet harsh beauty. The rich strips of riparian life that thrive in the immediate area of the water are rare pockets of life in this unforgiving, arid environment. Still, footprints on the muddy banks of the creek and the hidden remnants of past human populations hint at the area’s robust history. Observant hikers will easily find tracks of bobcats, javalina, deer, shore birds, skunks and lizards. However, finding the human elements requires a bit more effort. That’s where the park rangers and docents come in. In order to protect the dozens of fragile archeological sites in the area, their locations are not advertised. Still, the park rangers offer regular guided hikes to some of them. From the deeply incised, simple etchings of the Desert Archaic peoples who lived in the area from roughly 5000 B.C.E to 200 C.E. to the crumbling foundations of a dude ranch that had its heyday in the 1940s, Spur Cross Conservation Area is cluttered with the leavings of humanity from pre-history to modern times. Most of the ruins are those of the Hohokam people (1200 – 700 C.E.) and they range from intricate images of game animals and artistic symbols tapped into rock veneer to stone frames of multi-room living quarters and a magnificent mountain top fortress. In addition to the outstanding visuals on the hikes, there's a healthy dose of learnin’ included in each outing. So, if you walk away without picking up something you didn’t already know; then you just weren’t paying attention. To participate in a Spur Cross ranger-led hike, visit:http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/spur%5Fcross/

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