In Carefree, AZ, take Cave Creek Rd. north 15.1 miles to
campground sign. Turn left at sign into campground.
NOTE: After 5.9 miles, Cave Creek Rd. becomes dirt, narrow, rocky
The elevation is 3,300 ft.
The campground is pack it it, pack it out and was built by the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934. Stonework found
throughout the campground is example of enrollees workmanship.
Campground is adjacent to the flowing Seven Springs Wash under
large Sycamore and Walnut trees. It is scenic and a good example
of a Riparian environment below hills of a Chaparral environment.
There is no understory or ground vegetation.
An excellent day trip from the campground is a visit to the
Sears-Kay Ruin, located about 10 miles south on Forest Rt. 19.
The site, comprised of about 40 fortified rooms in 5 compounds,
was first occupied by the Hohokam tribe around 1050 A.D. It was
first discovered by soldiers on patrol from Camp McDowell. The
site is located on top of a hill about a mile from the trail
head. There are picnic tables, ramadas and grilles at the trail
The Cave Creek Trail begins at a large parking area about a quarter-mile beyond the Seven Springs Campground. Check out the large wooden map of the area's trails before you start, making note of trail numbers, as well as names; some of the signs along the way list only numbers.
The first section of trail is fairly level and well shaded, leading through stands of Arizona sycamore and cottonwood. As you progress, the trail begins to meander up and down, but never strays too far from the creek.
This is really the best part of the hike. Not only is it cool and shady, you're serenaded by the constant burble of the creek.
After crossing the flow, the trail climbs high, providing good views of the area you 've just traversed. Across the way stands a rare crested saguaro, its distinctive topknot easy to make out even from a distance. Eventually, the trail bends to the south and meets the Skunk Creek Trail (No. 246), not quite four miles from the trailhead.
From the junction you can return to the trailhead the way you came or loop back on the Skunk Creek Trail. (Note: At least one guidebook refers to this as the Skunk Tank Trail, and it does indeed pass by Skunk Tank.)
As the trail switchbacks steeply away from the creek, gaining about 1,000 feet over the next mile-and-a-half, it quickly changes character, leaving behind the rich, riparian corridor and leading into typical Sonoran desert. The vistas open up considerably as you ascend, allowing great views of the surrounding areas.
A little more than two miles along the Skunk Creek Trail, you reach the junction to the Quien Sabe Trail (No. 250), which comes in from the south. Stay on the Skunk Creek Trail, which veers left down an old minin g road, wide but rather steep in places.
About 2 and 1/2 miles beyond the Quien Sabe junction, you reach the Cottonwood Trail (No. 247), which leads about half a mile back to the trailhead.
In some places the signage is a little sparse or confusing. If in doubt, remember that Trail No. 4 is the Cave Creek Trail. Allow five to six hours for the moderately strenuous 8.9-mile loop
Where: From downtown Phoenix go north on Interstate 17. Take Exit 223 and proceed east 11.7 miles on the Carefree Highway. Turn north on Tom Darlington Road. (Scottsdale Road goes south at this point.) Continue two miles to Cave Creek Road, then turn east. The turnoff to Bartlett Lake is 6.3 miles beyond Tom Darlington Road; the pavement ends 4.5 miles beyond that turnoff. Continue on the graded but washboardy gravel road seven miles to Seven Springs Campground. The trailhead is about a quarter-mile beyond the campground.
When: Spring, fall and winter are best.
Difficulty level: Moderately strenuous.
Length: 8.9 miles round trip.
Details: (480) 595-3300.
Latitude: 34.67083 : Longitude: -111.93778 : Elevation: 3200 ft
Sheep’s Bridge is a footbridge that crosses the Verde River approximately 25 miles northeast of Cave Creek, AZ (about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, AZ). Shepherds use the bridge to move their flocks between the high country and the desert
The beauty of this region coupled with an abundance of significant prehistoric sites caused the President of the United States, in January 2000, to set 71,000 acres of it aside as the Agua Fria National Monument, a unit of the Bureau of Land Management's National Landscape Conservation System.