Arizona’s Cave Creek hike is a wonderland of rocks

The site of Cave Creek Regional Park has a storied history.

Before there were hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic ramadas, the park, north of Phoenix, and its surroundings were used by the ancient Hohokam people, mine operations, farms and ranches. Yet the park’s relics of human endeavors are transient compared to its geological features.

Although the 2,922-acre site has been picked over by prospectors in search of gold deposits that never quite materialized, the peaks, gullies and bizarre curiosities borne of Earth’s disruptive forces remain basically unchanged since before humans arrived.

Taking a moderate loop stroll on the Slate, Quartz and Go John trails reveals a wonderland of rock while staying (mostly) away from the park’s busiest routes. More Arizona hiking here.

During the first stretch, minor outcroppings of vertical-tilted metamorphic rocks — the “slate” — begin to pop up along the trail. Then, just beyond the half-mile point, the scaly gray slabs take center stage. The outcroppings balloon in size, running amok on and around the route. Patches of paloverde and ironwood trees provide a little shade, but mostly, this hike is open to the sky.

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