Hiking Cave Creek Regional Park

I completely forgot to blog about this…a couple weekends ago (actually, SuperBowl Sunday…none of us are really sports fans), Dad and I went hiking up in Cave Creek Regional Park.  The photos made it onto Facebook, but somehow didn’t quite get to the “being written about” stage.

Cave Creek (hereafter abbreviated as “CC”) is at the north-northeast part of the Valley, a little less than an hour from my house, easy freeway driving the whole way.  CC is a very horsey community, with both CC Regional Park and Spur Cross Recreation Area offering riding trails, as well as being surrounded by hundreds of miles of trails, off-road tracks, and Forest Service roads on State Trust Land and the Tonto National Forest.

Our goal, having never ridden in the area, was to do some scouting for future riding endeavors.  Great hiking trails.  Great trail training trails…as long as you can guarantee no other trail traffic, since if you met a bike on parts of this trail, your options are pretty much a vertical up or a vertical down, topped by a whole bunch of layers of loose, sharp shale and slate.

Fun times.

But I have pictures.

Sadly, I don’t have pictures of some of the more interesting, technical stuff.  I was too busy trying to stay upright on my own two feet.

Layers upon layers of shale, slate, and granite.
Very pretty.  Very rocky.

Horse-spooking bench.  My unflappable trail pony
thinks these are highly suspicious whenever we
encounter them.

Smooth section of trail.  It didn’t last.

More really pretty, funky rocks.  See why slate is popular
as both flooring and accent in homes around here?

Deeeeep crevice.  Very deep.  Don’t fall in.

My father is All Business with his Serious Hiking Pole.
He also didn’t know I was taking his picture.  Heehee.

More overview.  A bit of the trail visible on the left.

Looking into the town of Cave Creek.

Went “off-roading” to do some exploring.  Really, this is a trail.

Very cool solid rock wall next to the trail.

My desert grows cactus out of rocks.
Can your desert do that?

Looking north towards Spur Cross.

The Maricopa Trail is an in-progress trail being built around
the entire Valley.  It’ll eventually connect most of the regional
parks, using existing park trails, as well as community bridle paths
and the CAP/SRP canal system trails.  It’ll be about 250+ miles
once it’s all completed.  A segment of it actually uses the canal
that runs right behind my house.  I just discovered this the other morning.

Intrepid hiker.
I’m not actually rolling my eyes… I’m squinting into the sun.  

Quite a few blind curves + mountain bikers made for a few times
when I was actually glad not to be on horseback.

So CC is a really pretty park, just different enough from my usual stomping grounds that I enjoyed the change of scenery.  The verdict as a riding destination?  Not very likely, unless the Tonto and Trust Land have some better trail offerings.  CC is just too crowded, with too much traffic and not enough options for avoiding said traffic or getting out of the way.

But there’re still other trails we didn’t explore that might offer better options.  It takes a lot for me to write off a place as riding potential, so I haven’t given up on this park yet.  And I know I’ll definitely be back to hike it again!

We ended up doing about an 8.5-mile hike…lots of up and down, lots of rocks.  New empathy for the horses and how difficult balancing over rocks is and how it can tire them out so quickly.

2-legged Fitness

Riding was a wash today…sorry, bad pun. But we did get totally rained out. We were grooming the horses at the barn, trying to decide whether or not to bracve the elements. The San Tans looked clear – for the moment. But there was a large cloud mass hovering over the Superstitions, slowly circling back around to us. And there was another cloud mass building up to the west, coming over from California. (Hmmm, gotta wonder if this was some kind of weather jinx from my court reporting mentor in San Diego to make me stay inside and practice, versus go out and ride my horse. :))

We were still willing to brave it…until the clouds overhead started hailing. Yeah, we don’t do hail. Been there, done that…never again if I can help it. I’m a fair weather rider, I don’t know how to function in temperatures less than 60*. So the ponies got a very thorough spa-day grooming, a pan of soaked beet pulp with salt to encourage extra drinking on a cold day (plus, my new secret ingredient: cinnamon!!!), and the day off work. They breathed sighs of relief when we left. :)

However, not content to go home and get underfoot of my mother, Dad and I headed out to drive around the Superstitions. My teasing suggestions to stop at the Renassaince Festival were ignored (Dad has the same feelings towards this as I do towards hail…once was enough!), and we continued on out to Queen Valley, which is this tiny little community tucked back in the mountains. We drove around there and looked at properties, then started heading back home.

The Peralta Trailhead turnoff was on the way home. I haven’t been out to Peralta in about five or six years, and I’ve never actually hiked there, only been to the parking area. It’s a wonderful hiking trail, but really too rough for horses, from what Dad has said. Well, there was no horse trailer in tow, the rain has temprarily quit, the skies were clear…I turned off.

What I hasn’t remembered was the trailhead is back 7 miles on a washboard dirt road. Add to that the fact that it had rained very hard, and I had a rather interesting driving experience, especially coupled with the fact that the truck’s back tires are rather in need of replacing. I turned on 4-Wheel Drive, and the back end was still fishtailing in the really slick mud. I kept looking for a spot to turn around, but all of the little turnout areas were soft, sink-to-your-axles mud. After getting halfway, I was determined to make it to the trailhead.

We finally made it (only took 25 minutes or so…) to one of the lower trailheads, the Lost Goldmine trailhead. Peralta is another 1/2 mile up the road, but this was good enough. Better, according to Dad, once we started down the trail. Lovely single track with very little rock (for the Superstitions), some gentle up and down, nice decomposed granite base. Perfect for hiking. Not too sure about riding…it would probably be okay, but dragging the trailer back that far would be a pain for a training ride.

We hiked about two miles out, then it started to sprinkle, and a rather ominous-looking storm front was moving directly at us. We opted to turn around at that point, since we knew the trail back to the truck was pretty much safe to get caught in the rain on. Sure enough, we did get caught about 1/4 mile away from the truck and got a little damp, but we both had fleecy sweatshirts that kept the rain off for that short time.

So a total of 4 miles, done in an hour. My calves are feeling it right now, they’re just a bit tight. But it was absolutely gorgeous out there. Figures, the one day I leave my camera at home…the Superstitions were completely enshrouded in fog by the time we left. Magical, and just a bit eerie. At least if the ponies couldn’t get out, we were able to, so we have more fitness to be able to get off and walk or run/shuffle next to them periodically throughout the ride.