Cave Creek Trails

The Cave Creek Trail system is a 35-mile network of non-motorized trails on the Tonto National Forest between Seven Springs Recreational Area and the Spur Cross Conservation Area. It offers an impressive variety of hiking, mountain biking and horse riding options, both in length and difficulty, including:

  • The iconic but challenging Skull Mesa Trail
  • A portion of the Maricopa Trail
  • Crossover hikes between Spur Cross Conservation Area and Seven Springs
  • Multiple backcountry hiking loops through upland desert and riparian areas
  • Backpacking loops for multi-day trips

The Friends of the Tonto, in partnership with the Cave Creek Ranger District and with support from the Desperados Trail Scouts of Desert Mountain, has begun a much needed maintenance project to improve usability and safety.

Project Accomplishments to Date

  • The Desperados Trail Scouts made a significant donation to the Friends to purchase new trail signs. This local outdoor recreational and conservation organization initiated the project to enhance the enjoyment of hikers on the trails and address the need for updated signage.
  • The Cave Creek Ranger District secured a grant from the Great American Outdoors Act and in 2023, hired backcountry crews to perform heavy trail brushing and retreading in the more remote areas around Skull Mesa.
  • Friends of the Tonto held two Trail Maintenance Volunteer Days to brush trails, install rock cairns across washes and streams, close social trails, and install trail markers.

Ongoing Work

  • Friends of the Tonto will periodically hold Trail Maintenance Volunteer Days. Cave Creek District staff will identify and prioritize work areas and accompany and assist trail maintenance volunteers in the field.
  • With funds donated by Desperados Trail Scouts, Friends of the Tonto will hire a backcountry crew for two weeks in the fall of 2024 to retread, brush, and install signage in more remote trail areas. Work will be done under the supervision of Cave Creek District Staff.

How you can help

Sign up to Volunteer with Friends of the Tonto and we will alert you to trail maintenance opportunities.
Check the Friends calendar for volunteer events and registration information.

If you have questions about the Cave Creek trail maintenance project, email