Elephant Mountain Loop

HARD 176 reviews

Elephant Mountain Loop is a 7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Cave Creek, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,335 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

There is a $3 per person fee at the trailhead.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
1 day ago

hiking
rocky
13 days ago

Great hike! Took my wife & I 3 hours of hiking plus a 30 minute lunch break to complete. We would have finished slightly sooner but she came down with a chest cold this morning slowing her down . We did it ccw to save our joints. Fantastic views! You can see Weavers Needle in the Superstitions from the Saddle

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

Love this trail. It’s a fave! Sometimes I see 15 to 20 people and sometimes (week days) I have the trail to myself. Pristine Arizona back country. No cell service and absolutely gorgeous vistas.

Be forewarned...
It is a rugged and primitive trail. If you like mimosas and lattes and designer yoga pants, this ain’t your hike. This is a hike for enthusiasts in good physical condition. My fitness tracker has constantly put me at over 4000 calories burned. You will be hiking up and down a lot of ravines and canyons.

This is the Arizona that our ancestors saw and fell in love with.

hiking
23 days ago

Worst hiking trail I have ever done. The last few miles are straight up and straight down. Very steep. And the volunteers at the info center were clueless. Normally do a hike of this length in about 3 hours. Trails were beyond “rocky”. Finished in almost 7 hours with crushed toenails. Avoid!

hiking
rocky
25 days ago

Nice easy/moderate hike with a few inclines that will get your heart rate up. Beautiful scenery :)

hiking
26 days ago

I can’t wait to hike this trail again. Great views.

hiking
muddy
no shade
1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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!

hiking
1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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

2 months ago

+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
2 months 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!

2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months 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!

hiking
7 months ago

Nice trail saguaros were great!!

8 months ago

Excellent

hiking
8 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

hiking
9 months ago

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

trail running
9 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
10 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.

hiking
11 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!

hiking
Thursday, February 08, 2018

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

hiking
Saturday, January 27, 2018

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.

hiking
Sunday, January 07, 2018

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.

hiking
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Awesome!

Monday, November 20, 2017

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.

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