Desert Foothills Land Trust works with landowners, communities and partners to protect the most special and important natural areas in the Arizona communities of Carefree, Cave Creek, north Scottsdale, north Phoenix, Anthem and New River. The nonprofit Land Trust has permanently protected 620 acres on 17 preserves, many of which are open to the public for exploration and passive recreation. The Land Trust also offers opportunities for community members to engage directly in land conservation through guided hikes, volunteer activities and other events and programs. In 2010, the Land Trust was awarded accredited status by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission – the first land trust in Arizona to achieve this designation. The Land Trust is supported by gifts and grants from community members, as well as the volunteer efforts of dozens of families and individuals. More information is available at http://www.dflt.org or 480-488-6131.
One of the best kept local secrets for hikers and nature lovers, Spur Cross is one of the newest additions to Maricopa County Regional Park System. The conservation area encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upper Sonoran Desert. The north Valley location, accessible from the town of Cave Creek (Spur Cross and Cave Creek Roads), contains fascinating archaeology sites and lush riparian areas along Cave Creek, which flows throughout the winter months. Remnants of early mining and ranching, from which the park gets its name, are still apparent in the park. This area is a must see for all wildflower lovers in the spring. The abundant vegetation present in the conservation area provides a rich habitat for a diverse assemblage of wildlife. Spur Cross is a hiker’s dream – there are many miles of terrain from easy to extremely difficult. Consult the ranger maps for details. Horseback riding and foot traffic on all paths, biking on limited paths – no ATVs or other motorized vehicles. Open year round Sun – Thurs 6am-8pm; Fri-Sat 6am-10pm.
Located along a scenic drive east of Carefree, within the Tonto National Forest, the Sears Kay ruin is one of the area’s best examples of ancient Hohokam structure. The ruins contain 40 rooms and was home to more than 100 native peoples before it simply vanished. Remains include hand placed walls and paths of stone, carvings and glyphs. The view from the top is spectacular – Four Peaks, Weaver’s Needle, and the Superstition Mountains are easily visible on clear days. The hike to the top is about a 1 mile loop with an elevation change of 300 feet. It is not wheelchair accessible.
From Carefree, take Cave Creek Road/Seven Springs Rd./Forest Road (FR) 24 for 14 miles north to Sears Kay.
Located north of Phoenix, this 2,922-acre park sits in the upper Sonoran Desert.