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Thursday, July 7, 2011


Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
Entering the Jewel of the Creek

Riparian area

Relaxing in cottonwood air conditioning

Cave Creek

Don’t you just hate it when the National Weather Service issues a “heat advisory” with an “expiration date” of a few days?  Seriously, folks, if you live in the Valley, you know the “alert” has an annual effective date of May 1st through October 1st.  Given that outdoor recreation in triple digit heat can be deadly, this can be problematic for hikers.  Although driving north to hike in the pines is one way to escape the inferno, there are some sweet summer trails right here in the Phoenix area-- but you’ll need to start early and find a trail with cool cottonwoods. Standing beneath a cottonwood tree on a sweltering summer morning is like being in an air-conditioned room.  The trees suck up moisture at night and exhale cool air during the day, creating shady respites from the heat.

The Dragonfly Trail, which opened in April 2009, was engineered to showcase the desert foothills and thriving riparian environment along the perennial pools of Cave Creek, where lots of cooling cottonwoods grow tall and wide.  We can thank the efforts of the Desert Foothills Land Trust (DFLT) for securing the preservation of this delicate eco-system and for also raising the funds needed to plan for and build the trail.
NOTE: This hike describes only the 1-mile loop section of the Dragonfly Trail.  The entire route (part of the Maricopa Trail) is 2.6 miles in length and makes a great winter hike.
Another early morning summer destination brought to you by DFLT is New River Preserve (see separate blog entry).

LENGTHS: (including access road hike):
Harry Dalton Nature Loop: 0.75-mile
Dragonfly:  1.7 miles
RATING:  easy
ELEVATION: 2,400’ -2,200’
FEE: $3 daily fee per person (exact change is required at the self-serve permit kiosk)
DOGS:  please respect this fragile riparian preserve by keeping dogs on leash, and pack out all waste.
KIDS: excellent choice
HORSES: not allowed
From Loop 101 in Scottsdale, exit at Cave Creek Road and drive 15 miles north to Spur Cross Ranch Road.  Here, you’ll turn left, then right, then left again through a tricky intersection to stay on Spur Cross Ranch Road.  Continue 4.2 miles north to the dirt parking area on the left just past the Spur Cross Stables (SCS) gateway.



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