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
Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 1
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.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 2
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.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 3
Elephant Mountain from the Tortuga Trail.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 4
Two prominent features in the area are Black Mesa on the left and Sugarloaf Mountain on the right.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 5
Seed pods of Acacia?

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 6
Elephant Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 7
A view looking south toward the town of Cave Creek and Black Mountain from the Elephant Mountain Trail.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 8
A view of the eastern end of Elephant Mountain. Here the Elephant Mountain Trail begins its descent into a drainage.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 9
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 10
Elephant Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 11
Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) lit by the sun with Black Mountain in the background.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 12
Rocks in the wash.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 13
After dropping into the wash the Elephant Mountain Trail follows the wash up around the north (right) side of Elephant Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 14
Volcanic rock in the wash.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 15
The trail eventually climbs up out of the wash. This is a view looking back down the wash.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 16
Sugarloaf Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 17
Almost to the top of saddle on Elephant Mountain climbing from the north side.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 18
A view looking south from the saddle toward the town of Cave Creek and Black Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 19
A view looking north from the saddle: Black Mesa on the left and Sugarloaf Mountain on the right.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 20
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.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 21
Cholla, Prickly Pear and Saguaro march up Elephant Mountain on the west side of the saddle.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 22
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.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 23
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.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 24
A view of Black Mesa.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 25
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 26
Another interesting trail marker.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 27
Trail marker.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 28
A stand of Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 29
The trail continues around the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 30
Ocotillo blooming in January? Must be the warm winter we are having.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 31
Sugarloaf Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 32
As the trail rounds to the east of Sugarloaf Mountain grand views of Skull Mesa open to the northeast.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 33
A view of the hills to the south of Skull Mesa.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 34
View of Skull Mesa. From here the trail begins its long descent down to Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 35
Eastern side of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 36
Large Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 37
Near Limestone Spring the yellow flowers of Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) catch my eye.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 38
Little minnows swim in the tank at Limestone Spring.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 39
Even after nearly 100 days without rain, water still flows in Cave Creek. I'll follow the creek south back into Spur Cross Ranch.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 40
A pool in Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 41
Waters of Cave Creek flowing through bolders.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 42
Another pool in Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 43
Back in Spur Cross Ranch, I follow the Metate Trail along the Cave Creek drainage.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 44
A view of Elephant Mountain from the Metate Trail as it follows Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 45
Spiny thorns of the Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 46
The Metate Trail passes through a stand of giant saguaros. The next several images showcase these incredible cacti.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 47
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 48
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 49
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 50
A tangle of Saguaro arms.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 51
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 52
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 53
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 54
Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 55
An incredibly massive Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 56
Dead Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 57
Dead Saguaro Cactus.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 58
Closeup of Saguaro skeleton.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 59
A Saguaro arm reaching out for a handshake.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 60
The tip of a Saguaro arm.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 61
I make a short side trip on the Towhee Trail and find an old rusty bucket hanging in a tree.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 62
Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 63
Logs and leaves.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 64
Fallen leaves.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 65
Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 66
Arizona Sycamore along Cave Creek.

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 67
Leaves of a Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii).

Spur Cross Ranch Loop Hike: Image 68
Black Mesa and Sugarloaf Mountain from the Tortuga Trail near the end of the hike.

All images Copyright ©2006 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.