Hike to Skull Mesa Ruins

Rate this Adventure Arizona Spur Cross Ranch

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    16.6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2345 Feet

Easy Parking
Scenic

This is a difficult and seldom-traveled hike that leads to breath taking views and ancient Verde Hohokam ruins.

The Verde Hohokam ruins are believed to have once held home to about 100 people and approximately 800 years old. You will find the pueblo, petroglyphs, broken pottery, and the fort on top on the third summit. The ruins have an incredible aura surrounding them that really brings to light how these people lived and the struggles they may have encountered every day. You will notice an abundance of wildlife on top of the mesa but that means there are probably snakes and mountain lions in the area as well. You will also notice many trees that have been struck by lightning so be aware of any storm systems that may be moving in as there are very few places to take cover (trust me).

Starting at 2,232 feet of elevation, this 16.6 mile round trip begins its 2,345 foot elevation climb from the Spur Cross Ranch conservation area. Continue north/northeast on the Spur Cross trail for about 1 mile before crossing into the Tonto National Forest land where the trail will continue as FS 48. In 0.8 miles there will be a trail junction of FS 48 and TR 252. Continue north on FS 48 for about 0.4 miles until you reach Cave Creek Trail 4 where there is a large Tonto National Forest map. Continue on Trail 4 for just a couple hundred yards where you will turn onto trail 247. Trail 247 will then begin climbing elevation fairly quickly and you will continue for approximately another 2.8 miles before arriving at another junction. At this junction, take a left onto Trail 248, for 1 mile, towards the top of the mesa.

After reaching the top, follow the cairns east until you get on top of the main part of the mesa. Begin your bushwhacking journey approximately 2.3 miles (8.3 miles total) to the furthest northwest point of the mesa where the ruins are located. The ruins are located on the third peak that slightly descends from the mesa where your reward awaits!

Please respect the ruins, the trail, and do not rearrange or leave anything behind.

Pack List

  • $3 day-use fee
  • 72 oz. water
  • nutrient-dense snacks/lunch
  • camera
  • high socks/boots
  • sunscreen
  • GPS/cell phone (there is service on top)
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