Explore the most popular hiking trails in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

no shade
1 day ago

First time hiking this loop. Muddy in sections after recent rains. All easily passable. Excellent, beautiful hike. Personally, I would not call this hike primitive or difficult and I am just of average fitness. Trails are VERY used and well defined. We hiked counterclockwise, which climbs faster and gets you up to Elephant Mountain faster, with a nice gradual descent back to the parking lot. Most people seem to go up clockwise and return the same way. Note that the route up to the "summit" is posted "AREA CLOSED" but everyone goes up anyway. 360 degree views are awesome. Also note that this summit is NOT Elephant Mountain, which is the tall mountain peak just to the west. My GPS said 3342' and 7.6 miles from the parking lot. I'd definitely hike this again in the same direction, CCW... easier on the knees.

Amazing trail!! Well worth the drive to it! So so beautiful and lots of different surfaces to give you a challenge! I would definitely recommend this trail!!

Nice trail, relatively easy with a few inclines. Marked well, but there are a few intersecting trails and the signs are turned around. Will be going back.

6 days ago

Amazing views, plenty of shade and things to see. Would be a fun hike for the kids with the creek crossings, hold structures, Lilly pond and more.

on Spur Cross Trail

9 days ago

Great hike with awesome views. So many cool things to see like old foundations of cabins. Pond with Lilly pads, wildlife, old pool foundation from the 1950s. Good workout and so much fun while crossing the creek multiple times. Depending on how far you choose to go you will even make it into the Tonto National Forest. Be aware there is a $3 per person fee if you park and go to start this trail.

9 days ago

I would rate this easy vs moderate. Stunning views and lightly trafficked on an early January morning. This trail is not very rocky for the majority of the distance and would make a great spot for trail running. However, on a wet morning, it was extremely muddy and difficult to traverse along with a couple stream crossings. Seemingly good signage; however, somehow still got off trail and ended up quite a distance in the wrong direction?! Several benches to stop and appreciate the scenery. Two parking lots at the park, 3$ entrance fee, and an available port-a-potty.

9 days ago

Loved this short, amazing trail. Easy rating is appropriate, one brief stint over slick rock. So cool to have cacti on one side and a gorgeous deciduous forest on the other. Hiking in early January, water was flowing in the little stream. If hiking in wet weather this trail can be very muddy. Plenty of shade and peaceful, lovely views.

A meditative place. Great views. You exit the world here. I find my focus to be the trail and the views. Spur and Dragonfly are my favorite. Less crowded. Tortuga is not marked so aka primitive. Unless you are tracking distances...

13 days ago

Went to Spur Cross today, intending to do Elephant Mountain, but didn't make it. Just Spur Cross and Tortuga. Tortuga, of course, is marked Primitive Trail, Use At Your Own Risk, but not too bad. Too cold for rattlesnakes! Easy hike of about 4 1/2 miles, but quite scenic. Even saw a deer! Cave Creek hiking is great

amazing trail oasis in the middle of the dessert.
love the flowing stream.
gets kinda hard to follow the trail at the end

Easy and fun trail. Perfect for beginners and people getting in shape!

16 days ago

What a beautiful day! It had snowed the night before, so the trail was a bit hard to follow for the last miles-and-a-half. The summit of the mesa offers great views of the Cave Creek drainage. I saw several animal tracks along the way (coyote, deer, and bobcat).

Beautiful area and views. Would say this was moderate, not hard and 8 miles vs 6.8.

17 days ago

A gorgeous scenic walk through saguaros and some vegetation change!

Anyone can do this and everyone should!

$3 entrance fee and very friendly volunteers :)

Awesome fall to spring trail, we took our Rhodesian Ridgeback who is a good hiking hound. $3/person access fee. It looks like if you park outside the main parking area and start on the Jewel of the Creek trail you can avoid the fee. We paid it nonetheless. Went out early AM with temp right at 32deg. Total time, 1hr 50min at a reasonable pace with a few stops. Your time may vary a little. Started out to the north on a counter clockwise direction. Varying terrain and scenery throughout. 2 x creek crossings as water was running, well marked trails. Wonderful vistas and photo spots. Many benches along the trails. If you study the maps there are ways to lengthen and shorten the hike.

Couple things to note:
1) it is $3 per person not per vehicle.
2) from the parking lot...start going LEFT on Spur Cross Trail. (There are two signs - enter the left one).
3) Then as other reviews mention...When you get to the fork, go RIGHT (counterclockwise) to head up to elephant mountain and that way you do the hard part first!
Such a pretty hike! Barely anyone out there on a Sunday. Really pretty views from the top and could see all the way to weavers needle, the McDowells etc. The summit is in an area that says closed, but you can def enter and summit! It was minimally technical for me; switchbacks were steep leading to the saddle, but moderate if you are in decent shape. No sign at the top of summit though. We clocked in ~10 miles due to mistake at the beginning.. it was a very pretty mistake though!

21 days ago

Real nice area to hike! Parking area only holds about 8 vehicles. No water. No restrooms. Brought our Husky and Shihpoo and they did just fine. Trail is sometimes narrow and rocky. There are board planks to cross the creek. Lovely vistas. No snakes were seen!

23 days ago

Gorgeous hike, has it all, nice workout, incredible desert landscape, beautiful topography.

great views. the trail leads to the top of the saddle but a "closed" trail continues to a summit. this route just inspired me to explore more of this beautiful area.

I did this hike on a Tuesday morning and only encountered two other small groups while I was out. A nice, quiet hike with incredible desert views and plentiful saguaro. As other reviewers have noted, going counterclockwise will get the hardest part of the hike done first and then a nice descent for the second half. There is a self pay fee at the trailhead where you are asked to put three dollars in an envelope and keep the receipt for proof of payment.

What makes a trail 5 stars for me is always the vistas. This one really has it all.

1 month ago

What makes it challenging is the time that takes to get to the base of the Mesa.. otherwise the climb is relatively easy.. Take lots of water

Gorgeous hike. Combined spur and dragonfly and a couple others. Beautiful photography. Best 6 bucks this couple ever spent.

+1 for hiking it CCW, staying right at the fork to do the north section of the Elephant Mountain trail before the Spur Cross section. You will be facing the best views the whole time going this direction and you'll do the harder section earlier.

1 month ago

This was an exhilarating and challenging at the same time. I did this counter clockwise and so glad I did. Actually, I felt like I got the hard stuff out of the way first, and enjoyed my descent down after all the climbing I did. The views are incredible! Don't forget to stop every once in a while and turn around to see the sweeping desert views. Start early as this takes a while to do. Recommend this trail to get your heart pumping and your adrenaline keyed up!

GO COUNTERCLOCKWISE! The first 3 miles is a fairly gradual but steep incline to the saddle, everything from there is a breeze. Clocked in at 7.5 miles total, got off trail a few times but we think that’s mostly because we were admiring the scenery. So beautiful, watch out for jumping cactus around the saddle area... they line the trail for a good mile!

Great quiet trail with views. Sections are steep and loose. Do it counter clockwise and add Dragonfly trail at end for 8+ miles total and creek with big cottonwood trees to cool down.

Great hike with a 5 y/o and 12 y/o...good views and wash crossings and really nice large saguaros to see. Easy hike but keep an eye out for horse poop on parts of the trail...

2 months ago

This is a beautiful hike! It’s easy with pretty flat, stable paths. It’s just beautiful and such an interesting area with a creek, giant cottonwoods, all surrounded by a forest of saguaro cacti. There is a lot to explore. This is a great place to bring the dogs and the whole family. Lots of shade, ok parking, portajohns for bathrooms.

Super beautiful - went around 2pm on a weekday; saw a few people at the start of the spur cross trail then no-one until I hit boca grande wash and dragonfly loop. Goes without saying but watch for snakes! Saw a rattler near the start of spur cross trail. Upper dragonfly trail may be my new favourite section in spur cross - you feel like you're on a different planet. Very easy elevation changes but long enough overall for an ok workout. Lots of water for my dog to splash around in down in the loop so she may have a new favourite loop hike too. If you're a creeker and haven't done so already go to town hall and pay your $1 for your annual spur cross pass.

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