Arizona Hiking Gallery
Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Cave Creek, AZ
January 21, 2006
Gallery contains 68 photos
Gallery last updated: 2/5/2006
A view of Elephant Mountain This hike is a loop through the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area on the Tortuga and Elephant Mountain trails to the back side of Elephant Mountain where I'll hike up to the saddle on Elephant Mountain. I'll take the Tonto National Forest Trail 252 east to Cave Creek and follow the creek back into Spur Cross on the Metate and Towhee trails.
The Tortuga Trail crosses Cave Creek and starts a gentle climb. Here's a view looking back toward Cave Creek. Rising In the distance is Skull Mesa.
Elephant Mountain from the Tortuga Trail.
Two prominent features in the area are Black Mesa on the left and Sugarloaf Mountain on the right.
A view looking south toward the town of Cave Creek and Black Mountain from the Elephant Mountain Trail.
A view of the eastern end of Elephant Mountain. Here the Elephant Mountain Trail begins its descent into a drainage.
Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) lit by the sun with Black Mountain in the background.
After dropping into the wash the Elephant Mountain Trail follows the wash up around the north (right) side of Elephant Mountain.
Volcanic rock in the wash.
The trail eventually climbs up out of the wash. This is a view looking back down the wash.
Almost to the top of saddle on Elephant Mountain climbing from the north side.
A view looking south from the saddle toward the town of Cave Creek and Black Mountain.
A view looking north from the saddle: Black Mesa on the left and Sugarloaf Mountain on the right.
On the peak to the east of the saddle stand 800-year old walls of an indian ruin which may have served as a lookout post or a signaling station.
Cholla, Prickly Pear and Saguaro march up Elephant Mountain on the west side of the saddle.
After the saddle, I hike back down and north into the Tonto National Forest. I'll follow Trail 252 northeast for several miles as it navigates around the south and east of Sugarloaf Mountain through typical Sonoran Desert.
An interesting trail marker. The trail to Peterson Spring was not on any of my maps. I'll be following the trail to Limestone Spring.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).
Another interesting trail marker.
A stand of Saguaro Cactus.
The trail continues around the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Ocotillo blooming in January? Must be the warm winter we are having.
As the trail rounds to the east of Sugarloaf Mountain grand views of Skull Mesa open to the northeast.
A view of the hills to the south of Skull Mesa.
View of Skull Mesa. From here the trail begins its long descent down to Cave Creek.
Eastern side of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Near Limestone Spring the yellow flowers of Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) catch my eye.
Little minnows swim in the tank at Limestone Spring.
Even after nearly 100 days without rain, water still flows in Cave Creek. I'll follow the creek south back into Spur Cross Ranch.
Waters of Cave Creek flowing through bolders.
Another pool in Cave Creek.
Back in Spur Cross Ranch, I follow the Metate Trail along the Cave Creek drainage.
A view of Elephant Mountain from the Metate Trail as it follows Cave Creek.
Spiny thorns of the Saguaro Cactus.
The Metate Trail passes through a stand of giant saguaros. The next several images showcase these incredible cacti.
A tangle of Saguaro arms.
An incredibly massive Saguaro Cactus.
Closeup of Saguaro skeleton.
A Saguaro arm reaching out for a handshake.
The tip of a Saguaro arm.
I make a short side trip on the Towhee Trail and find an old rusty bucket hanging in a tree.
Arizona Sycamore along Cave Creek.
Leaves of a Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii).
Black Mesa and Sugarloaf Mountain from the Tortuga Trail near the end of the hike.
All images Copyright ©2006 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.