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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


CAVE CREEK #4 Tonto National Forest Traversing a swath of classic Arizona Upland Sonoran Desert terrain, Cave Creek trail is a study in environmental diversity and human history. . The trail can be directly accessed from either the Seven Springs area or from the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. Either way, hikers will encounter lots of dips and twists in the well-worn path as it wanders among remains of early ranching operations, old mines and a smattering of ancient Hohokam petroglyphs and ruins. Although recent wildfires scorched the eastern end of the trail, the gurgling waters of Cave Creek are feeding a resurgence of the sycamore and cottonwood trees that formerly crowded intermittent pockets of riparian plant life that thrive below saguaro-studded hillsides. The creek runs at its fullest during springtime when a riot of wildflowers paint the desert vistas in vivid shades of orange, purple and red. LENGTH: 10.4 miles one-way RATING: Moderate ELEVATION: 3,500 – 2,440 feet GETTING THERE: East trailhead: From the Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima/Princess Road exit. Go north on Pima Road for 13 miles to Cave Creek Road. Turn right (east) onto Cave Creek Road (which will turn into Forest Road 24) and continue 9.5 miles to the Cave Creek Trailhead. West trailhead: From the intersection of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road head north on Cave Creek Road about 2.5 miles to Spur Cross Road. Turn north and drive 4.5 miles to the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. From the parking area, hike 2 miles up Spur Cross Trail (which becomes Forest Road 48) to the Cave Creek trailhead. There’s a $3 daily fee per person. Exact change is required for the self-serve kiosk. INFORMATION: or (480) 595-3300 or (480) 488-6601

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