This loop features trails maintained by Maricopa County Park and the Town of Cave Creek. Portions of the Maricopa Regional Trail are not well marked but so many people ride the loop on a regular basis that it's not difficult to follow the tracks in less well-marked areas. The route has some technical areas with tight switchbacks and rocky drops.
The group rides usually start at the local historic Flat Tire Bike Shop in downtown Cave Creek. You can shave off about 4.5 miles if you drive and park at the Spur Cross Conservation Area parking lot. Sunday group rides are regular all year round. Check the Flat Tire Bike Shop's Facebook page for ride details.
Bring more water than you think you'll ever drink in a day and then double it. Seriously! If you're not accustomed to the desert you can get heat sickness quickly and then we'd have to do the rescue and "I told you so" bit.
The ride begins on pavement but there is a nice Town-maintained trail that parallels the paved road until the road turns to dirt at about mile 3. The is a short steep climb before you get to the entrance of Spur Cross Conservation Area, a Maricopa County Park.
The ride begins in earnest as you head up the Spur Cross Trail
(left at the entry Kiosk). You then cross normally dry Cave Creek and pass the ruins of the old Spur Cross Dude Ranch. From there it is all UP until you get to the "pass".
As you exit Spur Cross through the south gate, you join up with a portion of the 300+ mile long Maricopa Regional Trail. This section includes some challenging terrain and an encounter with a few cows. A short portion of this trail is through a dry creek bed with lots of rocks so it's good for increasing strength and balance.
The route then takes you into Cave Creek Regional Park via the north gate and onto the western of portion of the Go John Trail. Follow the Go John to the Overton Trail
. If you need water, you can make a short detour to the Nature Center. After passing the picnic and playground areas, you'll cross the main park road and proceed to the Slate Trail. After approximately 1/4 mile on the Slate Trail, take a left onto the Jasper Trail which will again meet up with the Go John Trail. Head right up the Go John for some more steep climbing. As you fly down the back side of Go John, make sure you take the newly constructed Quartz Trail
to the right.
Watch out for horses and hikers on all trails in Cave Creek Park, but especially on the Overton, Jasper and Quartz Trail
. After completing the Quartz Trail
you'll find yourself back on the Slate Trail (make a left at the intersection). Follow the Slate Trail out of the Park and onto the Desert Foothills Land Trust preserve. You'll cross Cave Creek again and follow the trail to a large gate. After going through the gate, follow the Town of Cave Creek signs through a series of short Town owned trails. You'll pass close to house and one short stretch of sandy stream bed (you need your "Granny Gear" to make it through without walking).
At this point if you want to call it quits before the last short brutal climb you can hop onto adjacent Cave Creek Road. If you gut out the last climb you pass dangerously close to a condo association's pool and spa. Resist jumping over the fence and head back into town for lunch at Big Earl's Greasy Eats. It'll be a ride and a meal you won't soon forget.
The Spur Cross Conservation Area is located adjacent to the Tonto National Forest and contains Hohocom ruins, petroglyphs and "pit houses" dating back to 800-1100 AD. It was also the site of one of the earliest "dude ranches" in Arizona and one of the richest gold mines around the turn of the twentieth century.
The Conservation Area was once in private ownership and when a huge development was planned for the site, the citizens of Cave Creek joined forces with County and State Park agencies to acquire the property. Fiercely anti-property tax, nevertheless, citizens voted yeas to taxing themselves by a margin of 84%. The last payment on the bonds was made in 2012.