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Jewel of the Creek Figure 8
Cave Creek
July 21, 2022
by Robbi Fowler
Trailblazers at Jewel of the Creek. [photo by Robbi]
Patty, Shar hiding in back of Paula, Jeanne, Maya, Yu-Ling, Marilyn, and Teena.

Nine hikers gathered at the main parking lot at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and walked down past the horse corrals to the Jewel of the Creek Trailhead sign to begin the day’s hike. At 6 AM it was 98°, and amazingly the same when we finished. We were pleasantly spared Phoenix heat and sun by a cloudy sky and the smell of rain in the air. All the hikers were prepared and hiked 3.12 miles in 1 hour 48 minutes with a +-217' EG. That’s even with the sidetrack to the beach, to note the lack of water, and stopping momentarily for the cave and the mine.

The 26.6-acre, Desert Foothills Land Trust preserve, the “Jewel of the Creek Preserve,” just south of the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, is rich with high Sonoran Desert animal and plant life. On this day we saw an abundance of rabbits, lizards, frogs, quail and roadrunners. Strikingly, it was the rich green of the Cottonwoods along the path of Cave Creek that focused the eye on the water’s path as we came up the ridgeline.

One of many striking views. [photo by Robbi]

There too was a striking view of Elephant Mountain—one that actually looks like an elephant.

Elephant Mountain. [photo by Robbi]
Sign. [photo by Robbi]
We began by entering the preserve and doing the larger of the two loops. Normally a riparian paradise the Preserve both the large loop and the smaller loop, The Harry Dalton Loop Trail is, at the moment, at the lowest water level. Random small pools with fish and frog life stuttering and plank bridges over wet spots only hopeful of a flowing stream.

We did the entire double loop this day, twice crossing the natural “amphitheater” rocks at the midpoint.

Having done only 3.12 miles and being blessed with that cloudy sky, even if the humidity was high, all but Cross Road, past the trailer and picnic tables to do the Fairy Duster Trail—a small lollipop trail just 0.25-mile down Spur Cross Road one of us opted to skirt the parking lot instead of heading home. We struck out down Spur.

Fairy Duster is an easy 1.3 miles. So, we added another 2 miles and 30 minutes to our planned hike. Not many Fairy Dusters at this time of year but we did see a Prickly Pear or two budding or in flower.

Prickly Pear. [photo by Robbi]
Map. [photo by Robbi]

We returned to our cars to leave hot and sweaty but happy, and didn’t get rain until leaving the park.

To find this trail, take Cave Creek Road north from Phoenix into the town of Cave Creek and turn left onto Spur Cross Road for about four miles. Spur Cross Road soon turns into a smooth dirt road for the last mile where it ends at the Spur Cross Ranch on the right. Parking for Spur Cross hiking trailhead at the Jewel of the Desert is located on the left, in front of a private home.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated July 22, 2022