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Explore / nature / desert & lowland

Cave Creek Regional Park

hiking & horseback


2 Cool Lizards travel guide


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An early morning drive up I 17 from Phoenix often provides a colorful display of helium balloons. We counted over 10 balloons gloriously floating above the desert.

Go John Trail Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona Cave Creek Regional Park is located north of Phoenix in the upper Sonoran Desert. Elevation ranges from 2,000 ft to 3,060 ft. Trails can be used for biking, hiking or horseback riding. Camping is allowed within the campground. As in all regional parks, visitors are not permitted to remove anything from the park.

We made out trip on a beautiful morning in May. The drive up 32nd Street (Cave Creek Parkway) provided a bright, landscape display of wildflowers and blooming cacti, and colorful hot air ballons drifting on the breeze overhead.

The 5.8 mile Go John trail is the longest trail through the park. Switchbacks provide gentle climbing while one gains elevation. The upper elevation of the Go John trail provides sweeping views to the north and south. The photos on this page are of Go John trail. It is rated as moderate/difficult, meaning there are mostly uneven surfaces, with dirt and rock.

Slate Trail is 1.6 miles and is rated by the park website as easy, meaning mostly smooth and wide with occasional unevenness. Clay Mine Trail is also an alternative for those desiring an easier hike.

Trails include Flume, Clay Mine, Jasper, Overton and Slate. The trails range from easy (Clay Mine, Jasper and Slate) to moderate (Flume and Overton), to moderate/difficult (Go John).

The Nature Center is located near the entrance to the trailheads. Stop in for maps, information, and to see exhibits.

Photo on right: Go John Trail

REMEMBER BUG REPELLANT
The day we made the hike, it was over 80 degrees at 7 AM. There was also an abundance of insects. Fortunately, none of them were of a biting or stinging variety. Still, it made it difficult to stop to take photos. Each time I stopped, I was immediately covered by swarms of gnat sized bugs. Insect activity depends upon time of year and time of day, and recent weather (rain brings out more pests.

Flowering Sahuaro Cave Creek Regional park Arizona Because the Go John Trail loops around the mountain, away from the city, we felt like we were miles away.

The park offers many special events, including a fall Halloween season event, educational talks, narrated hikes, fitness hikes, the Clay Mine Tour, the ability to see wildlife feed, a guided night hike and many other adventures.

For more information on events, go to: maricopa.gov: Cave Creek Regional Park Look for the section that says "Upcoming Events"

For a map of the park, including trails and campground, to to: maricopa.gov: map of park

Resources:

www.maricopa.gov Maricopa County: Cave Creek Recreation Area. Maps and information about park activities.

cavecreektrailrides.com Horseback riding rates, hours and other information.


Fabulous reviews of nearby places:
Thunderbird Mountain Regional Park: hiking & nature
Carefree & Cave Creek Towns


Go John Trail Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona
View from top: Go John Trail
Go John Trail Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona
Go John Trail
Go John Trail Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona
View from Go John Trail


Directions


37900 N. Cave Creek Parkway
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
(623) 465-0431

From I-17, go east on Carefree Highway. Watch for the sign to Cave Creek Park (it is on the right side of the road). Turn left just after the sign, onto North 32nd Street. Follow N 32nd into the park area. Turn left onto Oliveine Avenue to view the campground, or continue on to get to the trail areas. N. 32nd Street turns into Cave Creek Parkway. The road ends at the horse staging area. Turn left just before the horse staging area, on Tonalite Drive, to get to the trail heads.

The Clay Mine trail leaves from the campground and joins up with the west loop of the Go John trail.

As in all regional parks, hiking IS NOT permitted beyond the park boundaries without a permit. Camping is allowed only in the campground.

Pay the entrance fee at the booth located at the entrance to the park.

For maps and fee information, go to:
Maricopa.gov: Cave Creek Regional Park Maps


accessible travel

accessible trail Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona Accessibility
There are no roads through the park other than the one that enters and leads to the trail heads. A manual wheelchair could not manoever the steep, rocky trails. A motorized scooter or wheelchair with larger tires could navigate the flatter areas. We took Go John Trail, which is pictured in the photos on this page. Horseback riding is available and might provide an appropriate alternative for those who cannot hike the trails. See resources above. The Go John trail is rated as moderate/difficult, meaning there are mostly uneven surfaces, with dirt and rock. Obstacles are listed asa less than 12" rocks and ruts, with loose material.

Slate Trail is 1.6 miles and is rated by the park website as easy, meaning mostly smooth and wide with occasional unevenness. This includes 2" or less rocks and ruts.

Restroom facilities are located in the trailhead section along Tonalite Drive. We do not have information about the accessibility of these restrooms (whether family style is available) at this time. We will update this page when we have more information.

Refer to Accessible Travel for more information on accessible travel.


travel with children Children
Go John is a relatively easy hike, with a gentle slope up to the top of the loop (note: it is rated as moderate/difficult on the Maricopa.gov website). There are switchbacks to help with elevation climb. Sides of the hill can be steep, and there are no railings. The Go John Trail was packed dirt, with some rocks in the dirt. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, bug repellent, sunscreen and hats for protection.

Children would love the guided, educational tours, plus the special events (such as watching wildlife feed). See "resources" for more information.

Restrooms are also located in family campground. Refer to maricopa.gov: pdf map of campground.

Restroom facilities are located in the trailhead section along Tonalite Drive. We do not have information about the availability of private, family style restrooms at this time. For a close-up of the map of the trailhead area, including location of restrooms, go to:maricopa.gov: pdf map of trailhead area.

Refer to Traveling With Children for more information on travel with children.

travel with pets Pets
Pets are allowed in the park and on the trails, but not on the narrated hikes.

Refer to Traveling With Pets for more information on pet travel.


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