Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. 20 Sep 2020.

This morning, Marie and I finally had a day with no work, appointments, or contractors until 11AM, so we decided to go for our first morning hike in Arizona outside the neighborhood since moving here August 26th. We headed to Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek; the parking lot there is about 20 minutes from the Roundhouse. We arrived late (around 7am, which is late for a hike here in AZ). The kiosk at the trailhead is pictured above.

The view above is from the trailhead. There are a number of trails here,  ranging from flat and easy, to rough and rugged. We look forward to trying as many as we can. Above, you can see Elephant Mountain in the distance,  which is where we were headed. 

The trail was dusty and uncovered…of course a broad brimmed hat and plenty of water was in order. Gear-wise, we wore our Osprey mini backpacks which each include a 2.5 liter water bladder. Carrying just a bottle or two in the desert for miles isn’t a grand idea, especially on a morning that started in the 90’s and would reach 104.

We continued along the Spur Cross Trail, heading for the Tortuga Trail, and eventually the Elephant Mountain Trail. So far into the hike, there wasn’t a lot of birds,  just a few Curve-billed Thrashers and many Black-throated Sparrows.

We were getting closer to Elephant Mountain (above), and yet couldn’t figure out why it was named that way. I don’t see an elephant there.

Some of the sediment along the trail reminded us of a mini grand canyon or Sedona red rock.

Above, I was looking back down one of the more primitive, rocky trails. You can see Marie coming up the trail for a sense of scale.

Coming down into the wash from the little “plain” above was pretty steep and fortunately there are some steps built into the trail.

One of my favorite scenes of the day (above). Truly an Arizona hiking experience… massive Saguaro framing a beautiful mountain.

We made it to the wash along the bottom, where the fine, soft gray silt made Marie comment “I feel like I’m at Huguenot”. She meant slogging through beach-like sand that would get into your shoes, but that was definitely not a comment I thought I’d hear on that hike!

I’m partial to Ocotillo for some reason, and will love photographing them.

Overall, we did about 5.3 miles over 2.5 hours. It was a somewhat challenging hike cardiovascularly, which is just what we needed. Not very birdy but a great morning. I celebrated this evening with an appropriate beer…an Odell with an Elephant on it to salute Elephant Mountain.

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