Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Couple of Weeks on the Outskirts of Phoenix

We've spent the last two weeks hopping between some of the very nice parks surrounding the Phoenix metropolitan area. First stop, five nights at Lost Dutchman State Park, where we last stayed in March 2014. This time we just hiked some trails in the park (though not the intense Flat Iron trail), met up with some friends staying nearby, and spent some time with my dad who was passing through the area.

Hans, Lisa's dad Ron and Cookie overlooking Canyon Lake in the Superstition Mountains.
Harris Hawk.

Sunset at Lost Dutchman State Park.

On the feeder at Lost Dutchman State Park.

Our next stop was an old favorite, McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We first stayed here in November 2012 and discovered the amazing network of fun and not-too-hard mountain bike trails at this park. Hans managed to ride over 60 miles during our 5 night stay, I rode about 30 and we both enjoyed every minute of it!

New to us this time was adding some of the trails from the adjacent McDowell Sonoran Preserve to our rides. The Goosenecks and Saguaro Nest trails were fantastic flowing fun that should be on every mountain bikers list! We also enjoyed watching some great riders on the Cactus Cup 40 mile race held the weekend of our stay.

We love, love, love the sites at this park. Huge separation and amazing views. We loved site 62 last time and we loved site 56 this time. Even though 56 is an interior site, there are no close neighbors, views are wonderful, restroom is nearby and we had shade all afternoon...important as the temps edged into the 80's.

Sunrise at site #56, McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Ragged.

Several hundred riders did the Cactus Cup 20 and 40 mile races at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
Here we catch a little action on the race course!




Crested saguaro beauty at McDowell Mountain Regional park.

Our third stop outside of Phoenix was Cave Creek Regional Park. We last stayed here in March 2014 and had a site that was pretty and spacious but our patio area baked under the hot sun all day long. This time we got smart and booked the lovely site #8, with all day shade and views and privacy galore. We really hit the jackpot with spring flowers on all our hikes in this area.

Sunset at site #8, Cave Creek Regional Park.

Morning ascension seen from the Go John Trail.

It's the perfect time to stay at Cave Creek Regional Park!



Excellent bird activity around our site at Cave Creek Regional Park.


Is there room for me?

We once again hiked the fabulous eight mile lollipop loop at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, following Dragonfly, Tortuga, Elephant Mountain and Spur Cross Trails. We also spotted our first rattler of the season...Hans would have walked right past him if he hadn't let us know he was watching!

Cave Creek.

Petroglyph and a view from the Dragonfly trail.

We'll make a loop around impressive Elephant Mountain....it's a pretty strenuous trail!



A little excitement along the trail...

The variety of flowers blooming in the Cave Creek area was stunning!

This javalina crossed the trail in front of us one morning on Go John Trail at Cave Creek.

Awesome site #8 at Cave Creek Regional Park.
Privacy, enormous separation, all day shade on the patio, views and birds.

Tomorrow we continue north to Camp Verde...into red rock country!


24 comments:

  1. Beautiful! That looks like a fabulous stay up north.

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  2. Looks like the perfect place to be! The wildflowers, the fantastic biking trails, the sunsets, the birds—even a Harris's Hawk! McDowell and Cave Creek have long been on our list—after seeing your beautiful photos, they just moved up a few notches. So nice you got to meet up with your dad, too.

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    1. Both of these parks are wonderful in their own way and I'm sure you two would enjoy them! This year the wildflowers are amazing...it seems mid March is a great time to visit to see them.

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  3. What a glorious two weeks! Beautiful photos! I love the rabbit...and how cool to photo the Harris Hawk. Lots of variety and colors of wildflowers.

    Enjoy your time in red rock country! Can't wait to see pictures!

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    1. I feel so refreshed after a few weeks of really nature-centric campgrounds! This sure is a beautiful spring this year!

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  4. You guys can sure take the heat!!! I guess we are wimps.

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    1. Ha...we got out on the trail at 7am to beat the heat!

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  5. Glad we got to see you guys at McDowell. Maricopa County has really done an excellent job with their parks, making it feel like you are nowhere near a city the size of Phoenix.
    Enjoy red rock country!

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    1. We love Maricopa County Parks!

      It was great seeing you as well!

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  6. Wonderful photos. Did you put out the bird feeders? That poor jack rabbit (but at least he survived).

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  7. Love all the Maricopa Regional Parks, they are worth repeating over and over again since we first camped in 2012! And love all your bird pictures especially the Harris Hawk.

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  8. So nice to see that your foot is holding up with all the biking and hiking:) Looks like fun working through the Maricopa Parks! This was definitely the perfect season to be in the wildflowers. That is one tall guy with the crested top. Now that is a huge rattler. It looks like the guy I watched shed in the Nature Center. Glad he gave you a warning! Good to see you had another visit with your dad:) Enjoy Camp Verde!

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    1. The foot is doing okay...though I am now developing blisters...probably too much too soon...

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  9. Canyon Lake looks like a really beautiful hike. Fabulous picture of the Harris Hawk. I’ve never seen one before so thanks. You sure do make me want to go to McDowell with your description and that Sunrise. All the parks sound wonderful. Great picture of the rattler. I understand this is the year to be in the SW with a huge super bloom. I’m envious for sure. Glad to see you are out doing all this hiking.

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    1. If you ever make it out West you will love Maricopa County Parks too! :-)

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  10. We too love the Maricopa Regional Parks. Looked like you two had a wonderful couple of weeks. Great photos!

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    1. Phoenix really knows how to do county parks!

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  11. I'm envious of those cloudless, blue skies (said the girl stuck in dreary, gray Portland!)

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    1. You would love this area! If we land in Cottonwood/Sedona/Prescott area you and Roger have an open invitation to visit!

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  12. The flowers and trails are so wonderful - but the critters you saw were amazing!! Beautiful snake among the rocks. Those regional parks are all so beautiful, we must get back to see more of them.

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    1. It may be weird but I really wanted to see a snake...safely of course!

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