Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

+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.

hiking
17 days 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.

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful and hard hike. The AllTrails rating of ‘moderate’ is incorrect. The trailhead has it rated as ‘extremely difficult’ which is correct. Lots of steep climbs and it is fairly long 6.8 miles. But incredible views and happened upon a rattlesnake and a king snake. Bottomline, leave early, no dogs for sure due to terrain and difficulty, and be in shape!

This is my favorite trail in Maricopa County. The views are varied and spectacular. A nice combination of desert and forest-like scenery. At one point you cross the creek in Cave Creek, but it has been dry all summer. Best of all, plenty of shade along the Dragonfly Loop.

hiking
4 months ago

An absolutely lovely little hike among the cottonwoods, along Cave Creek. Lots of wildflowers, grass, trees, and, bonus - SHADE! ...a rarity on Phoenix trails. This little hike was very dreamy because of the vegetation and the trickle of the water. But be warned, snakes need to drink too - I saw a diamondback twisting and bending around the roots of a cottonwood, slowwwwwly lowering its head down into the water. Very elegant to watch, but for those of you who don't like snakes, beware.

Its unique in such a beautfiul way. Kind of confusing in the beginning. Took a leff when i got to the area with bathrooms. Went and took the tortuga route But it was a while before I saw the Tortuga trail sign. Take it early, it gets very hot.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice trail saguaros were great!!

Pretty descent hike. Overall I wouldn’t rate this trail as difficult, the last part of the hike going from the base of the mountain up to the top plateau is somewhat strenuous but I would consider 75% of the trail to only be moderate not difficult. Scenery wise, it’s ok, typical desert scenery. I did like the fact that past the first mile I saw no one. To avoid wandering around trying to figure out what direction you need to go to find the trail use the satellite map on the all trails app. It didn’t occur to me to do this until after I had went the wrong direction for about a mile. After parking continue to walk down the road to the area where the portable restrooms are. They will be on your right. Continue to walk straight down the road toward spur cross trail - do not go left- you will pass 2 other trailheads on your right, just continue going straight. You will stay on this road/trail for awhile until you eventually see an old cow pen on your left. Their will be a river bed on your right. The trail to the right is the one you want to follow. If you end up going through a gated area with the cow pen on your left you went the wrong way. You will eventually see a large older sign that has several trails listed on it. At the sign go to the right. You will continue on this trail which was listed as cottonwood trail, you will not actually see a sign that says skull Mesa trail for a number of miles. You will eventually see it on your left. Pay attention to make sure you stay on skull Mesa trail. It is not well taken care of and only rockpiles keep you on track. From almost the start of the skull Mesa trail you will be going uphill. Eventually you will find yourself at the base of the mountain. The trail switchbacks up this mountain up to the top. Be mindful of weather reports. I disregarded them and ended up wading back across the flooded river beds that had been bone dry only hours earlier. After finally getting back to my truck the main road was flooded out and had a line of cars. I did find out from a very nice girl that morning star road was a bypass road and not flooded to the point that it was impassable. If you find yourself in the same situation try Morningstar road. It’s much better to pay attention to the weather and not get into the situation to begin with. I hope this long winded run on review helps.

Excellent

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful trail. Much 10% grade. I only did from parking to elephant mountain trailhead. I started around 7:30 and should have started earlier to make the whole route. Next time

backpacking
6 months ago

Great trail and very close to cave creek. Didn’t complete the full thing but camped up on top of the mesa. Excellent views with a fun hike! The scenery is unforgettable and makes me proud to call Arizona home.

Great views, no people, wildlife, and well maintained.

trail running
7 months ago

Beautiful hike/trail run. 6.8 by my watch. Agree moderate, not difficult. Counter-clockwise has more steep inclines at the beginning of the loop, then the other side is gradual and rolling ups and downs. Few people go beyond Tortuga so nice and quiet. Great views! Optional trails at the top to a lookout and then also to Elephant Mountain. Have seen rattlers, so watch your step. No water, and can be pretty sunny. One of my go-to's. Second parking area is closer to the trailhead. Small fee for parking, or get the Maricopa county yearly pass. Don't know if they check, but the $$ is for a good cause.

hiking
7 months ago

As an experienced hiker, next to the Grand Canyon this trail is by far the hardest I’ve hiked in Arizona. Do not attempt it in the hotter months as there is little shade. You will need a minimum of 4 liters of water to complete this round trip. Extremely rocky and uneven terrain so good boots are a must. All in all a awesome hike that will challenge you to keep going. The views from the top of the Mesa are endless and must be seen. As you ascend to the top on the 248 trail imagine the Native Americans doing this daily carrying supplies and water to the community that lived on top. Your day pack will feel much lighter! Enjoy

This is a beautiful hike. I wish the desert had enough rain this year as I can see it must be stunning when the desert is in full bloom. I think the rating on this one is wrong though and I would rate it as moderate not difficult.

on Dragonfly Trail

hiking
8 months ago

Loved everything about it. Short but sweet. Great for kids, I took all five of my kids and even my two year old did great!

Nice scenery, different trees, and great for kids! We took our three and five year old boys and had a blast.

I loved this trail! I took Tortuga, Elephant Mountain, and Spur Cross Trails. Made it all the way to the top! Great views up there and a worthy challenge! I will come back again that's for sure!

Nice walk. I think it will be really pretty when the wildflowers come out.

hiking
10 months ago

simply amazing.

on Dragonfly Trail

10 months ago

Interesting terrain with a variety of flora. Very pleasant

hiking
10 months ago

Nicely maintained trail that was easy to follow. Moderate difficulty even hiking it counterclockwise. Very enjoyable.

on Dragonfly Trail

hiking
10 months ago

Great short trail also went on the Tortuga trail which cuts off of this trail to get a better view of the mountains worth the extra miles.

Great for hiking. Most would be good for biking too. Plenty of shade spots. Not a great amount of altitude change so that’s nice. Has a remote feeling.

I enjoyed this hike, had some elevation that gave you a bit of a workout but not too strenuous. I paid the 3 dollar fee only to realize at the end you don't really have to. Good parking. Vault bathrooms.

Awesome trail with lots to see. Great hike to enjoy with kids.

Moderate hike while in Spur Cross Trail but definitely turns difficult once on the Elephant Mountain section. Great combination of accent and decent with various terrain conditions. Great views from most of the trail.

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