Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area is a Maricopa County Park located near Cave Creek. This area is unique in that it covers over 2,000 acres, including riparian areas with water! It’s definitely one of the best county parks and worth exploring with kids.
There are nine different trail options here, including the Maricopa Trail. The majority are well maintained and marked. But please take along a map, either paper or digital to reduce confusion. For kids, we highly recommend two trails in particular: the Dragonfly Loop, and the Metate Trail + Fairy Duster Loop. Note that water can be present in both areas, but usually only in the winter months.
The Dragonfly Loop (2.6 miles) is a combination of desert and lush trees, looping around part of the seasonal creek. We love this hike! It’s on the end of easy to moderate. You can read more in this blog post.
Of note, the Dragonfly Loop is actually part of the Jewel of the Creek Preserve, run by the Desert Foothills Land Trust. But because the trail enters the conservation area, and connects with other trails, it is considered part of Spur Cross Ranch. If you’re just going to hike Jewel of the Creek, there is a separate, small parking lot and no fee.
The Metate Trail can be found from the restrooms, by taking a short jaunt (0.2 miles) on the Spur Cross Trail down to the seasonal creek. Once you cross the creek, you’ll see the Metate Trail (0.8 miles) on your right. The trail may cross water several times, but there is a foot bridge. Enjoy play time in the water if it’s warm out! Loop back on the Metate Trail, or turn on to the Spur Cross Trail to return to the restrooms where you began. The Fairy Duster Loop is also on the left before you reach the restrooms.
During our February visit, we hiked some but mostly let the kids play in the water! They had so much fun. Bring along buckets, water shoes (or shoes like Crocs or Keens), extra clothes, and towels if you go this route. We were told that “seasonal” for the creek usually means November-March, or after a heavy rain.
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area is open 7 days a week, 6am-8pm. Entry is $3/person ages 15 and up. Cash only. Annual passes, which covers all Maricopa County Parks, are $85/person. There are port-a-potties and a few covered picnic tables for use. Cell service is spotty. Parking is free with several lots available. Dogs are allowed on leashes.
You can also mountain bike on some trails. Please contact the Spur Cross office for details.
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
44000 N. Spur Cross Road
Cave Creek, AZ 85331