MTB Project

Cave Creek Cactus Classic Race Loop

Consensus:    (details)
 4.7 from 6 votes
blueBlack  Intermediate/Difficult from 5 votes
Rank: #1 in the Carefree and Cave Creek area
#14 in AZ, #450 Overall
Views: 10,473. Last 30 days: 245
Aug 12 Green
Featured Ride in the area near Cave Creek,
“The best ride in the Sonoran Desert. Incomparable views; wild west scenic beauty.”
Michael Rigney on Apr 28, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
23.938.5 milesKilometers 1,964’599 m Ascent 2,766’843 m High 3% Avg Grade (2°)
50% Singletrack -1,970’-601 m Descent 1,971’601 m Low 13% Max Grade (8°)
There's a $3.00 fee for entrance to Spur Cross Ranch.
4:43 average time for 25.3 miles. Details

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.
Need To Know
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.
History & Background
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.
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PHOTOS of Cave Creek Cactus Classic Race Loop
 4.3 from 3 votes
I got up at 3:30 AM for this ride and was well-rewarded. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 4.0 from 5 votes
Always look up the trail, even when climbing. I nearly ran over this rat... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.7 from 3 votes
Enjoying the Spur Cross trail! (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 4 votes
Riding with Brad and Sheena while they were on intermission from there r... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 4 votes
The start and finish of all great rides in Cave Creek - the Flat Tire Bi... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 4 votes
Beginning of the Spur Cross Trail after steep initial climb. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
More trail work needed here be careful this is a rough downhill section ... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Coming out of wash into Cave Creek Park. The rest of the trail to Cave C... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Rock hardened IMBA trail section across Cave Creek Wash. Did better than... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
More summer rain damage to trail. will be fixed soon but be careful here... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Heavy erosion from the summers storms. Watch out here or your day could ... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
On the Spur Cross Trail with my daughter Crystal, as you can probably te... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
poppies on the Spur Cross Trail (Cave Creek, AZ)
 3.0 from 3 votes
Just outside Spur Cross gate looking South at Cave Creek Park in the dis... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.5 from 4 votes
Newer section of CCBA trail. Most of it did remarkably well through the ... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.5 from 4 votes
Junction of Quartz Trail and Slate Trail (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
North entrance gate to Cave Creek Regional Park. Take the Go John Trail ... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
After crossing cattle guard, bear left and look for the Maricopa Regiona... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Ocotillo in bloom. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
View from the summit of Overton Trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Junction of Spur Cross Trail and Dragonfly Trail and Tortuga Trail with ... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Spur Cross Trailhead just after the entrance gate. Stay to the left. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Old (1922) Geological Survey marker denoting township and range boundary. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Slate "steps" on the Slate Trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
View up the trail to the summit (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Don't miss the junction of the Maricopa Regional Trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Cattle gate on Maricopa Regional Trail. Make sure you close the gate; tu... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
The view from the "Pass" on Spur Cross Trail. The climb is worth the view. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Great Horned Owl nest in saguaro just off the trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Maricopa Regional Trail splits from road. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Junction with Go John Trail. Make sure you turn left at this junction as... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Junction of Go John Trail and Overton Trail; stay to the right and follo... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
South gate of Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. From here, you will be... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Steep downhill on Overton; Nature Center (with water and air conditionin... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Giant quartz outcrop (hence the name Quartz Trail). (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Dancing saguaro (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Maricopa Regional Trail marker. Watch for these as you ride this portion... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Spacious parking lot at the Spur Cross Ranch Trailhead. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 3 votes
Before sunrise (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.3 from 4 votes
Sharp left turn into the dry wash. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.0 from 4 votes
Trail through rocky wash; great place to practice balance and rock hopping. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.0 from 3 votes
Sun rising over the desert (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.0 from 3 votes
Beginning of steep section on Spur Cross Trail. The summit is not far so... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 2.0 from 2 votes
Trailhead for the Slate Trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 1.7 from 3 votes
Gate at the south entrance to Desert Foothills Land Trust preserve. Turn... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 1.7 from 3 votes
"Dog collar gate". This next section of the trail is very technical with... (Cave Creek, AZ)
 1.7 from 3 votes
Double switchbacks on Overton Trail. (Cave Creek, AZ)
 1.7 from 3 votes
Dirt road section (Cave Creek, AZ)
 1.7 from 3 votes
Back to civilization. Town trail parallels Cave Creek Road. One last sho... (Cave Creek, AZ)
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