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Thursday, January 2, 2014

SPEAR S RANCH


MARICOPA TRAIL: SPEAR S RANCH DAY HIKE
Phoenix

Spanning 240 miles and linking 10 county parks, the Maricopa Trail is a unifying, non-motorized system of existing paths, closed roads and new construction. Forming a massive circle around the Valley of the Sun, its course brushes against busy recreation sites, suburban neighborhoods and desert wilds with entry points in the parks and at special trailheads.  Spear S Trailhead was established in 2011 and gives access to a splendid stretch of rangeland via paths established by the Hohokam people who lived in the area from  
trailhead
about 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D. This is also cattle country, and a plaque near the trailhead features a list of early homesteaders whose roads and ranch sites still imprint the land. The Spear S trailhead is located roughly halfway between Lake Pleasant, Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, making it a convenient launch for both day hikes and backpacking.
One scenic option is to do an out-and-back hike to the Cave Creek area parks. This route jogs along saguaro inhabited hillsides, shady washes painted green with plant life and heart-stirring open desert terrain with 3219' Apache Peak as a central beacon along the way.   Trail signs are posted at all junctions, but can be easy to miss.  At the 2.9-mile point, the trail splits.  Turn north to continue to Spur Cross or stay straight for Cave Creek.

LENGTH:
4 miles one-way to Cave Creek Regional Park, or
6 miles one-way to Spur Cross Conservation Area
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 2050' - 2295' (as described here)
FACILITIES: none
GETTING THERE: 41799 N. New River Road
Go north on I-17 to Carefree Hwy (SR74) exit. Go east (right) to 7th Street, turn north (left) and go 4.5 miles on 7th St  (turns into New River Road) to the trailhead on the right (located just
Apache Peak
before Linda Lane).
INFO & MAPS: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 602-506-2930
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