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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The hike you must do...once

BLACK MOUNTAIN
Cave Creek
Ancient rock puts the black in Black Mountain
Jutting more than 1000 feet above the desert floor, the imposing ebony silhouette of Black Mountain is a difficult-to-miss gateway to the towns of Cave Creek and Carefree.  Although its pyramid-shaped profile and collapsed south face resemble an extinct volcano--that's not what it is.  The massif's  impressive slopes are made of Precambrian granite and metamorphic rocks stained with a rich black patina for which the mountain was named.  When I quizzed a local hiker about the trail, she commented, “It's not my favorite, but everyone should do it once.”  I concur.  Short, straight-up-steep and uncomfortably crowded with just so-so views, I'm glad I hiked it, but, in my opinion—it's a one hit wonder.  Maybe my impression was sullied by the overcast skies on the day of my hike and the fact that I got rained on while on the summit. Many would disagree with me, though—including the gentleman I hiked down with who swears:  “It's the best hike in Cave Creek.”  Whatever way you swing, here's a good reason to tackle Black Mountain—photo contest!
Think you've got the chops?  Then grab your camera, hit the trail and enter the annual Black Mountain Photo Contest sponsored by Desert Foothills Land Trust---the organization that oversees the conservation of this north Valley treasure. You may just see your work published in their 2013 calendar.
But even if you're not a photo maven, visit their web site (below) to see how you can help this local non-profit group with their preservation work.
You WILL be hiking among dogs on Black Mtn.

LENGTH: 2.4 miles roundtrip
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION: 2,164' – 3,398'
DOGS: leashed dogs are allowed
KID FRIENDLY: some high steps, best for older kids
the "trailhead"
GETTING THERE:
FROM NORTH & WEST PHOENIX:
Take I17 to exit 223 for Carefree Highway (SR74).  Go 10 miles east to Cave Creek Road, turn north (left) and go 3 miles to School House Road (in downtown Cave Creek). Hang a right (south) and continue to the parking area near Military and School House Roads.
FROM SCOTTSDALE:
From Loop 101, take the Scottsdale Road exit and go 12 miles north to Cave Creek Road. (Scottsdale Road will turn into Tom Darlington Drive north of Carefree Highway).  Turn left (west) on Cave Creek Road and continue 1.20 miles to School House Road, turn left (south) and drive to the parking area near the corner of Military and School House Roads.
FROM CENTRAL PHOENIX:
Go north on SR51 to Loop 101.  Take 101 west to the Cave Creek Road exit. Follow Cave Creek Road  to School House Road (in downtown Cave Creek).  Turn right (south) and continue less mile to the parking area.
  
INFO: Desert Foothills Land Trust

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