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Sunday, December 28, 2014


Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area is a pristine swath of preserve snuggling up to Cave Creek. It's got everything you'd expect of a Sonoran Desert hiking destination with some unexpected extras to boot. Complementing a community of gigantic saguaros, skulking coyotes, mesquite bosques and  fragrant creosote are a smattering of Native American archeological sites and ruins of mining operations that are best explored via regularly scheduled guided hikes.  With so much to see and do within the Ranch, it can be difficult to decide where to start.  That's where the popular Tortuga-Spur Cross Loop hike comes in handy. Along its 3.6-mile circuit, the trail samples both the rough terrain round the base of Elephant Mountain and the slinky, fresh-cut tread of Spur Cross Trail. A moderate uphill slog on an old 4x4 road leads to a crest overlooking water-scoured gorges, cacti-cluttered cliffs and the riparian wonders of the Jewel of the Creek Preserve. From here, a barely discernable maze of trails braided through surrounding hills and valleys belie a bevy of connecting routes that link the park with adjacent suburbs and the wilds of Tonto National Forest. 
LENGTH:  3.6 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  2,200' - 2,800'
FEE: $3 daily fee per person.  Exact change is required for the self-pay station
From Loop 101 in Phoenix, take Cave Creek Road north to Spur Cross Road (on the left just as you enter the downtown area) and go 4.5 miles to the parking area.
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation

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