Let the Hiking Season Commence!

Sunday 1.27.2013 @ 1:37pm | Lynsi Freitag | Adventure

Photo Credit: Bryan Black - Blackswan Photographers

Let the Hiking Season Commence!


Spring is around the corner, the weather is turning warmer and Arizonans are embarking on one of our favorite outdoor activities: hiking. The area is bursting with amazing hikes of varying experiences and difficulties. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual hike with friends, families or your puppy, or you are looking for an adventure trail run, there are plenty of options. Here are just a few of our favorites, listed from easiest to most difficult.


Please share some of your favorites with us via email or on our Facebook page.


Cave Creek Trail #4


Difficulty: Easy


Length: 20.8 miles round-trip


Trailhead: Cave Creek & Spur Cross


Location: In the Tonto National Forest at the Seven Springs Recreation Area. To get to the Cave Creek Trailhead, go north on Pima, Scottsdale, or Cave Creek Roads from the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. Turn right (east) onto Cave Creek Rd. (or continue east if starting on Cave Creek Rd.) until the road turns into Forest Road 24. The Cave Creek Trailhead is on the right shortly after entering the Seven Springs Recreation Area.


Highlights: This hike offers close-up views of the creek with great places to sit and watch the water (when the creek is flowing). Hikers will also get views of the creek and canyon from higher up where the trail ascends the surrounding landscape. Given that the trail is not a loop, hikers can make this as short or long of a hike as they want. It does get more difficult the farther in you hike so if you are seeking an easy hike with some creek views, stick to the first few miles.



Jewel of the Creek


Difficulty: Moderate


Length: 4-mile loop


Fee: $3 per person


Location: From Loop 101, exit at Cave Creek Rd. and drive north for approximately 15 miles to Spur Cross Ranch Rd. Continue north for 4 miles to the dirt parking lot on the left.


Highlights: Ever since the Desert Foothills Land Trust, an organization committed to protecting segments of Sonoran Desert in the area, took over this space, hiking on the trails has become a really pleasurable and beautiful experience. The trails are beautiful with dozens of plant and animal species, including more than 20 types of dragonflies. If you are a photographer, bird watcher or nature lover, this is a trail you will want to visit.


The Dragonfly Trail leads through the Jewel of the Creek Preserve. It is a wonderfully un-desert-like area with pools of water, towering sycamore trees and, of course, dragonflies.



Go John

Difficulty: Moderate


Length: 6 miles round-trip


Trailhead: Go John


Location: Cave Creek Regional Park. From Phoenix, take Cave Creek Rd. north to Carefree Highway then turn left. Turn right onto 32nd St. and continue into the Cave Creek Recreational Area. There is a fee required to enter the park. Continue along the main park road, just before the horse area; there is an access road for the Go John trailhead on the left.


Highlights: There are two trails that are interconnected: the Go John and Overton Trails. They are right next to one another and can be done together as a counter-clockwise loop trail. However, both trails can be done separately - the Go John Trail is a 4.8-mile loop, and the Overton Trail is a 2.1-mile loop.


The Go John Trail begins as an easy hike through the desert that gradually begins to climb. When the trail turns north, hikers cross in and out of washes and the trail continues to dip and climb throughout.


It is a less-traveled trail for hikers allowing for a quiet hike in the serene desert landscape. It is a popular trail for horses, however, so make sure to follow trail rules.


Black Mountain – Cave Creek

Difficulty: Difficult


Length: Almost 2.5 miles round-trip


Trailhead: A residential area in Cave Creek.


Location: Black Mountain now has a paved parking lot at Schoolhouse and Military Road. Walk up the dirt road following signs for the trailhead.


Highlights: A less visited Phoenix area mountain, this is a great place to go in lieu of the congestion at Camelback or Piestewa Peak. This hike is both beautiful and challenging. At the top, hikers get great views of the area and the surrounding mountains. It's about an 1100 ft. elevation gain and 2.2-mile round trip.