Elephant Mountain Trail

MODERATE 136 reviews

Elephant Mountain Trail is a 6.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Cave Creek, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

6.3 miles
1,210 feet



nature trips



wild flowers



no dogs

There is a $3 parking fee at the trailhead.

4 days ago

Why do people insist on bringing dogs to no-dog areas? There are plenty where they are allowed. Respect the signs and rules please.

12 days ago

Nice trail saguaros were great!!

30 days ago


1 month 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

2 months ago

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

trail running
2 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.

3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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!

5 months ago

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

5 months ago

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.

6 months ago

Enjoyable trail. Hiked counter clockwise which definitely involves a steeper climb than hiking clockwise. Trail easy to follow even through the wash. Wish public was allowed to go up to the area with the ruins. Definitely need good hiking shoes for this hike. Even with mine still slipped on the loose rocks/sand a few times going up. Also trail is 7 miles from the parking lot.

7 months ago


7 months ago

A terrific trail, challenging, but not tricky. Wear hiking shoes (not running shoes) and bring lots of water.

There is some confusion about the restricted area. You can't go up to the Hohokum fort because of the danger, but you certainly can keep going on the descent part of the trail so you do the full loop as the map here shows.

9 months ago

Did this today. The Trail had much potential till I got to a point where it said area closed. It seemed like so should go up but instead I ventured past about a mile and felt like I was going the wrong way. I headed back and started to go back up the trail that said area closed and there were fresh footprints and a definite trail but my husband was worried about venturing further so I turned around and headed back out the way I came in. Does anyone know if that trail is closed off? Does it go up and then loop back down? Or should I have kept going on the mile past it? It just seemed like that trail was heading farther away from the return point. It looked like it went for miles

9 months ago

Good early morning hike.

9 months ago

Nice hike great views all the way and need to see the ancient ruins of a fort at the top. Got an early start and only came across a few others toward the end including a few mountain bikers. No dogs

10 months ago

Forgot to rate this when I went back in NovemberDecember of 2016. I went on a weekday and it was stormy (and even rained) so I never saw another person out on the trail. It was just me and my 9 year old Australian Shepherd. I love this trail for lots of reasons...

1) The views are GORGEOUS!!
2) The length was perfect
3) It's far enough away from the city that you really feel like you're in the deep wilderness.
4) It's not a heavily trafficked trail, and it's too treacherous for mountain bikes, so it's just hikers (no offense Mountain bikers )
5). You have to pay attention and be on the lookout for Carins to find your way out of the wash (so it is challenging).
6) It's a great workout!!

P.S...I guess I did rate this back in 2016, as I just found my rating. I forgot to mention...this trail is better navigated with hiking boots rather than running shoes. You'll need the traction and stability that boots offer.

10 months ago

Nice views. It's full of scenery. You get a lot of tuna's (Cactus Opuntia fruits) enway.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Straightforward and scenic trail. take plenty of water ( I took 3 litres) and some protein sources. watch out for Rattlers.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

This trail can be a little challenging but worth the views! This trail will take you through washes, watch for the trail signs. The gnats are out in force, so I would recommend bringing some Off or Deet spray. We went from 5am till about 9am. Trails did stay cool during this period and decent amount of shade for the pup. Wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. Really enjoyed this trail due to its variety of terrain and view points.
CAUTION: Rattlers are out there(on trail) saw a couple on the way back to the parking area roughly 815-830am.
There is a $3 fee you pay at the beginning of the trail to help keep it maintained. As well as maps for the trails.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hiked SX, to outer loop of TR, to EM, over the saddle, back to SX. Still a beaut of a hike(even as Summer approaches), but small gnats are out in force. Packed 4 liters of water & drank 3 of them. Direct sunlight made it very toasty. I look forward to doing this again. Start early, bring a lot of water, hiking snacks, & loose fitting light colored clothing. Don't forget the hat.... Cheers

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Great hike! We did the Metate loop first which added a couple miles. It is a great hike with wonderful views at the top. The trail is somewhat rough on the Elephant portion, but it is very doable. There is not much shade so bring plenty of water. My 11 year old downed his 2 liter Camelbak and then some! Will definitely do again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The hike is spectacular in the spring with everything in bloom and very dense stands of saguaro. Takes about 3 hrs roundtrip.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I love the view and I didn't think it was hard.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Great ranger les hike to the top of Elephant Mountain. Trail rating of Moderate is fair. Lots of nice ruins on the way. Definitely worth taking the park ranger led hike.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My very first Arizona hike! Gorgeous in March!!! Wildflowers in "superbloom", everything was SO INCREDIBLY GREEN!!! Difficult trail on a hot day (and distance is more like 8.4 from parking lot!) ...sturdy footwear recommended! $3.00 fee required but totally worth it for the views/serenity/and "facilities" at trailhead!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

one of my favorite hikes. However bring $3 cash per hiker as county has volunteers working collecting on the trailhead

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Beautiful scenery! $3 fee per person

Friday, January 20, 2017

easy trail, beautiful scenery !

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