Jewel of the Creek Preserve and Spur Cross Ranch. 18 October 2020.

This morning we visited Jewel of the Creek Preserve, which is 8.5 miles (20 minutes) from Roundhouse. We arrived around 7:30am to coolish temps (low 70’s), and there were about three parking spots left at the trailhead. (Parking is free here, but there is only room for about 12 cars.).

Jewel of the Creek Preserve is an “easy” rated trail, and you can tell because it’s heavily trafficked, has a lot of families and casual hikers, and more trash (and discarded cigarette butts) than any trail we’ve hiked here since arriving.

The trail is fairly wide and not too rocky in most places. It takes you into a riparian area that had very little water, but I imagine it’s normally a creek… this year has been exceptionally dry and was actually the driest monsoon season on record. In the picture above, you can see many layers of sediment in the creek bed. It looked like a miniature Grand Canyon.

There were a few birds around; we had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Say’s Phoebe, and the Hermit Thrush above. For my friends back east, notice how different the Hermits look here. Those and Song Sparrows in the west almost look like totally different species to me.

Above is a view of the riparian area along the Jewel of the Creek Preserve trail. I believe that is Elephant Mountain in the background. Hiking through these areas was very pleasant, with no flying insects or biting bugs.

Above is a view part of the trail, it was often much sandier. Below is a fruiting cactus. I think it was done kind of cholla, maybe “chain fruit” cholla, but I’m really not certain.

Below is a shot from near the trail head, there were lots of bumblebees in this area but they weren’t bothering anyone.

We ended up taking the Dragonfly Trail from the Jewel of the Creek Preserve trail, which takes you into the adjacent Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. We hiked the Dragonfly, which takes you up the canyon back onto a mesa. There is one petroglyph right on the side of the trail; look for it.

The entrance to the Dragonfly trail is above, it’s basically a creek bed. There are a few more images below of other interesting landscape along the trail. Overall, we did around 5 miles in just over two hours. After leaving, we drove up to the Tonto National Forest and all the way to Seven Springs campground area. It was a scouting trip and was a great success. I plan on hiking there very soon…lots of cottonwood and Sycamore riparian areas that should be great for things like Western Scrub-Jay and Acorn Woodpecker and Bushtit.

Jewel of the Creek was a great hike and I celebrated with a “Fossil Creek”. : )

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