How does getting a front-row seat to big-sky vistas full of saguaros or the beautiful Sonoran Desert sound like to you? The Spur Cross Trail makes for an epic morning hike in the mountains. In fact, this is where you should bring all your out-of-town guests and family for hikes. Nothing spells out a fun time better than being close to nature and embracing adventure.
The Spur Cross Trail Offers One of the More Diverse Landscapes
Your visualization of a highly urbanized city will slowly fade into a distant memory as soon as you hit the Spur Cross Trail. It leads you slowly and serenely into the mountains so that you can be farther and farther from any development.
The first mile of the climb is said to be an old double-track ranch road suitable for hiking or biking. Some outdoor enthusiasts also use this same trail for horseback riding. Soon enough, the trail narrows to a single lane before finally becoming a footpath. You need to cross a few numerous washes, which are either sandy or rocky. Just remember to be careful when crossing on logs or stones when the water is running. It can be pretty slippery! During floods, the condition is also dangerous.
The Spur Cross Trail is full of saguaros and purple mountains. If you follow the path, you will also reach the narrow trails along Cottonwood and Cave creeks. There are ephemeral streams full of sycamores and mesquites, and these are just lovely. An outstanding view will welcome you during the spring. On the other hand, these will ebb down to trickles by May. Come winter, they will appear dry but are still worth looking at.
The local vegetation with elevated views will be a sight for sore eyes! Remember, this area is surrounded by mountains so your cellphone might not work here.
You Will Love Looking at the Full Range of Desert Fauna at Spur Cross Trail
You can find the trail in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. This is a Maricopa County park with several marked trails. One of the most popular, if not already the most popular, is the Spur Cross Trail which cuts straight across the 1-mile width of the park. It continues into the national forest, leading you to a wonderland filled with greenery.
Feel free to observe the wildlife here and capture some photos so you can remember the experience forever. If you are lucky, you will see some bobcats hopping from rock to rock in the streams. There might even be some unseen predators hiding in the thick bush along the trails scaring the cats. You may also check the park’s Facebook page to view the remote-control camera set up in the park showing the deer and javelina and mountain lion families.
The trail features a beautiful creek that looks even more stunning when it is flowing. Not to mention, you will see many cacti, wildflowers, birds, snakes, and the creek where you can splash in. If you want to avoid the big crowd, go during the weekdays!
Enjoy a Trail Ride Through the Sonoran Desert
You can enjoy the beauty and relaxing nature of the desert while riding a horse in Spur Cross. The leader will take you to see the great variety of native plants from the hedgehog cactus, prickly pear, ocotillo, mesquite, and palo verde, to the giant saguaro cactus.
Just choose from the short 1-hour ride or the 2-hour ride offered by Arizona Horseback Adventures. Either way, you will be treated to nature’s best firsthand. The knowledgeable guides who will come along with you will tell you all the fun things you’d be glad to know. Not only that, if you are a novice horseback rider, consider this your debut to the wonderful activity of horseback riding. You will also be given a couple of carrots so you can properly feed and thank your horse for accompanying you on your journey.
What You Should Know
- As for the amenities, you will find two porta-potties and one shade ramada at the trailhead.
- Bring home a souvenir after your exciting hike. There are some folks selling Spur Cross T-shirts and baseball caps at a table near the entrance during some weekends.
- If you are looking for a post-hike meal, you may go through Cave Creek on your way in and out of the Spur Cross Ranch. The Old-World Mission-style Mexican cantina El Encanto is a good stop and you will feel like you’ve been transported to Mexico the moment you walk through their archway. The wrought iron gates, furnishings, and brick walkways solidify the Mexican theme even more. What’s more beautiful is that you can enjoy the dishes while looking at the picturesque pond. Many diners famously sit along the water under this covered patio because. Don’t you just love such a serene yet simple activity after a tiring hike?
This Is the Only Trail Where Mountain Biking Is Allowed in the Conservation Area
If you love mountain biking, this trail might be interesting for you. This trail is the first leg of the Cave Creek Cactus Classic mountain bike race. The event is held yearly on the second Saturday in November. Participants would cross the dry Cave Creek before climbing steeply on an old dirt road and reaching a narrow, well-maintained part of the trail. Since there are many rocky sections and sharp turns, this would be a challenge for beginners.
How to Get Here
- Take State Route 51 north to Loop 101 west.
- Then, exit at Cave Creek Road before driving north to Spur Cross Road.
- Turn left and continue your drive. Follow it to the “pavement ends” sign.
- Soon, the road will get a bit more “rustic” and will wind above the Cave Creek riparian area.
- Follow the road and go to the parking area about a mile in. You will find it just beyond the horse stables, and from there it’s about a couple hundred yards to the beginning of the hike.
Location: 44000 Spur Cross Road, Cave Creek, Arizona
Note: Please check if the trail is open before coming.
While you’re in Cave Creek, check out this Horseback Ride that lets you strut off into the sunset while treating you to gorgeous views of the desert. But if you want an adventure at a more popular or touristy destination, then you should try the Best Yoga Adventure in Grand Canyon You Need to Experience at Least Once in Your Lifetime.
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