Cave Creek Cactus Classic Race Loop

 19 votes

24.2 Miles 38.9 Kilometers



1,711' 521 m


-1,712' -522 m


2,763' 842 m


1,975' 602 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (6°)



The best ride in the Sonoran Desert with incomparable views of the wild west's scenic beauty.

Adrienne Goldberg


A great loop that begins and ends in the Town of Cave Creek. This course runs a loop into the Spur Cross Conservation area with a link to Cave Creek Regional park on the Maricopa Trail and finally back to town.

The Annual Cave Creek Cactus Classic is hosted on this loop, produced by Desert Foothills Mountain Bike Association.

Check for more info.

Need to Know

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 the 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 at the bottom of Overton Trail.

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 a 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 the 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 for a swim and head back into town for lunch at one of Cave Creek's many great hangout spots! 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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4.5 from 19 votes

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Jun 14, 2017
Mona O'Connell
Apr 9, 2017
Benjamin Hoppe
the trail is in great shape. Everything is rideable and super fast right now. 24.2mi
Apr 2, 2017
nathan smith
Mar 11, 2017
Greg Clark
Beautiful trail especially in early March. Lots of variety, tough climbs, fun descents keep it interesting. Navigation is tricky in the middle third 25mi — 2h 53m
Jan 28, 2017
Sam Marshall
Jan 16, 2017
Andrew Carges
Nov 10, 2016
Cb Pc
Nov 1, 2016
Jerrid Lujan
Amazing scenery. Some of the best mountain biking I've found so far. 13mi — 3h 00m

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  4.5 from 19 votes


  4.5 from 19 votes
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sweet trails. first time was just over 3 hrs on a hardtail. second ride was 2.5. once you learn the route its fun!!! watch for hikers and horses. seem to be more on sat then sun Apr 24, 2016

Incomparable views; wild west scenic beauty. The best ride in the Sonoran Desert. The route has some technical areas with tight switchbacks and rocky drops. And don't forget to check Tucson Bike Rentals at for more photos and videos Jul 19, 2016

$3 FEE!!! might have missed somewhere...ride from flat tire bikeshop to trailhead, 3 mi? to be told $3 fee?? THANKS for not giving me a mulligan, "JUDY" not in description!! (I think) ride pavement down, get cash, ride up to trailhead again.....10 miles in town on pavement/town trails, gurrrrrrr other than that great trail, lots of diversity Mar 29, 2017

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