An Easy Hike for Kids in Phoenix: Sears Kay Ruins

The Sears Kay Ruins are northeast of Cave Creek, and is a surprisingly easy hike for kids! The one mile round trip trail gains gradual elevation to the summit, where numerous Hohokum people home ruins and restorations can be viewed. The trail then continues back down the hill to the parking lot.

We opted for this hike on a rare cool weekend in May. (Seriously, it was overcast and in the 50’s – hence why the kids have their arms tucked in their shirt in some photos.) The Sears Kay Ruins are part of the Tonto National Forest; we came prepared with a Day Pass, but there were no signs indicating one was needed. The parking lot is small, with three ramadas and picnic tables. There are also restrooms (vault toilets).

As you gain elevation (about 600 feet total), the path varies with small sized rocks. Watch the trail, as we had to sidestep two huge ant nests! There are a few signs posted along the way, with the majority at the top. Take time to pause and drink in the scenery! On a clear day, you can view three major peaks: Four Peaks, the Superstition Mountains, and Weaver’s Needle.

The ruins contain 40 rooms and was home to more than 100 native Hohokum people around 1500 AD, before the people vanished. Some of the walls are about waist high, and restored, but realistic. You are able to go inside some of the homes. Just be respectful and don’t climb on or damage the walls.

One of the rooms is known as the “Mystery Room” because it is the only room among the 40 which does not have square corners. The corners of the “Mystery Room” are rounded! It is speculated that this particular room was built in an earlier period.

Why is it called the Sears Kay Ruins?  It was named after J.M. Sears who founded the nearby Sears-Kay Ranch in 1887.

We really enjoyed this easy hike, and the history it contained. It was a good hands on learning experience on local history. And the beauty could not be matched. This hike is going on our list of favorites! Combined with a few other activities in the Cave Creek and Carefree area, it makes for a perfect day trip with kids.

This hike will show up on Google Map, but with no address. But it’s not complicated to find. Take Scottsdale Road north to Cave Creek Road/Seven Springs Road, and take a right. Continue for about 14 mile. When you pass the Desert Mountain Golf Course on the right, it’s about 2 more miles. Entrance to the parking area will be on the right, go slow so you don’t miss it. There should be a Tonto sign.

For more basic information about the Sears Kay Ruins, visit the the USDA website here. Or this is a good summary from Hike Arizona.

Another favorite kid friendly hike near Cave Creek is Jewel of the Creek Preserve. Or search “hiking” on the blog at any time for other favorite hikes around Phoenix!

Jana is a homeschooling mother of three children, and lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Chris. She enjoys traveling, reading and coffee. Follow @phoenixwithkids on Instagram for daily photos around Phoenix!

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