Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Few Days at Cave Creek

We've spent a few nights at Cave Creek Regional Park, hiking the trails right from camp and just down the road at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. At the extreme North end of the Phoenix metropolitan area, we are still in the beautiful Sonoran desert, snugged up against foothills bordering Tonto National Forest.

Here's a few shots from the Cave Creek trails. The trails are easy to moderate, well marked, follow rolling hills, and have very few rocky sections.

One super unique Saguaro!

Pretty skies and views.

In the next two weeks I think the hedgehog and cholla blooms will really start opening.
We saw purple blooms in the Superstitions and now pink blooms here!

We peeked under a rock and found this...

We had an awesome eight mile loop hike at Spur Cross Ranch. (Map) We parked at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve, just outside Spur Cross, and took the Dragonfly trail to Tortuga trail, to Elephant Mountain, to Spur Cross, and back to Dragonfly.

Great variety on this loop...We enjoyed water in Cave Creek, saw cottonwoods and saguaros right next to each other! We saw evidence of the Hohokam people via petroglyphs and ruins. There were excellent vistas, some canyon walking, lots of geologic variety, and though there were some steep rocky sections, they weren't too tough.

Cottonwoods along Cave Creek in the foreground.
Elephant Mountain is the tall peak on the left.
We will be hiking to the saddle and butte on its right.

An unexpected combination of plants!
Thought to be a Hohokam petroglyph.

Found under a rock.

Our destination looms above us.
We'll hike up the canyon and around the back side.

That's our peak on the left!

From the saddle we could see the remnants of rock walls about 150 feet above us.
So up we went...
Thought to be Hohokam ruins.

A look back at the saddle we had come over and the butte we climbed to see the ruins.

Elephant Mountain is made of lava and covered with thousands of saguaros.

Beautiful and rugged terrain at Spur Cross Ranch.

We really enjoyed this loop at Spur Cross and look forward to hitting the rest of the trails here next time we're in the area. The trails are well marked and the variety of terrain can't be beat!

As we wrap up our brief stay at Cave Creek I'd like to share a simple, healthy and versatile Tangy Carrot and Cabbage Slaw. I make a batch and build lunches and side dishes around it for a few days. In addition to the simple and light snack shown below, I'll add it to a green salad or some leftover quinoa or other grain, or it's a great addition to a sandwich for a little extra crunch and tang.

Tangy Carrot and Cabbage Slaw covers homemade hummus on Wasa Crisp Bread.

Tomorrow we're heading North, here's one last shot from one of the gorgeous sunsets we've had at Cave Creek.


  1. We drove through Cave Creek Regional Park when we were staying at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. We weren't as impressed with the sites or views, but it sounds like there's way more hiking. It's also much closer to Bob's Aunt and Uncle in Carefree than Lake Pleasant. Next time we head to Phoenix we'll have to try Cave Creek Park. .
    We noticed on our first week in the land of saguaros that the saguaros were pretty much straight up and down. After being gone for a week and returning, the saguaros were much more curvy. Bob's Aunt and Uncle explained that's how saguaros store water. Interesting.

    Your unique saguaro looks like a Russian mosque.

    1. I have not been to Lake Pleasant but I can say that the Cave Creek sites are not as nice as Lost Dutchman or McDowell or Usery! BUT, some are decent and yes the hiking, especially just a few miles away at Spur Cross is great!

  2. We did this same hike when we were out in Cave Creek and agree it was wonderful! That is one amazing cactus. The crested saguaro has nothing on this one! Thanks for the slaw recipe. I am always on the lookout for healthy recipes and this one looks like something we would love.

  3. That first saguaro is a hoot! What a great find! The saguaro in the foreground of Elephant Mountain all seem to have those ripples, almost as if they all got hit with something. There sure are a ton there.

    Why were you (probably Hans, haha) picking up rocks! There are yucky things under there.

    Your tangy slaw will go great on my fish tacos tonight!! Perfect timing! Thanks for sharing, always looking for healthy eats.

    Beautiful sunset with my favorite cactus:)

    1. You would love all the saguaros here...but I haven't seen any crested! Yes, of course Hans is picking up rocks. He's really just a little boy at heart!

      The slaw would be perfect on fish tacos! Enjoy!

  4. I don't know I really like the crested...but I've noticed that there seem to be even fewer crested up here than further South. I hope you enjoy the slaw!

  5. If I am not mistaken that saguaro is "Michellin Man" and that is in one of the trails near Cave Creek Campground.
    I have some of the best sunrises and sunsets at Cave Creek and yours is no different, just as gorgeous.

    1. Michelin Man sounds appropriate! I loved this cactus!