Skunk Trail #246
ElevationAscent: 1,027' 313 m
Descent: -1,508' -460 m
High: 4,087' 1,246 m
Low: 2,957' 901 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)
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“An awesome trail with long views of the Seven Springs area.”— Guy Granger
Alas, Skunk Tank as a water source is not well maintained, but the canyon below it has intermittent water, and there is a spring box being installed at Quien Sabe spring, which will be easily accessible on this trail.
Along with the Cottonwood Trail 247, the Skull Mesa Trail Trail 248, The Quien Sabe Trail 250, this trail forms a part of an underutilized network of loops appealing for backpackers.
This trail is accessed most easily from the Cave Creek Trailhead on Seven Springs Road. Run Cave Creek Trail #4, then a short distance on Cottonwood Trail for a total of 1.2 miles, to the beginning of this trail. At one mile, you encounter the first of several summits on this trail, with wide expansive views. Sound carries very far in this terrain. I could hear voices at least 1/2 mile away, from a large party on a conditioning hike. At 1.4 miles, cross the stream flowing from Quien Sabe spring. A large spring box is in preparation here (Jan 2019). At some point, there should be very reliable water at this spot.
The next summit is at 1.7 miles, with even more expansive views. At 2.8 miles, intersect the Quien Sabe Trail #250. This is roughly the high point of the trail. As you continue down toward Skunk Tank, you'll encounter some cat's claw and some areas on the trail of loose small rocks. Be very cautious. There is a gate at Skunk Tank, about 3.7 miles. Be sure to close it behind you. Skunk Tank did not appear to have much water in it, but just 0.1 mile further on at N33 57.545 W111 54.374 there was water running across the trail. Here you enter the top of a spectacular canyon. I sat on a rock outcrop just off the trail for a half hour to eat my lunch and enjoy the amazing view.
The trail follows high on the canyon wall, then along the top of the ridge, finally zig zagging in switchbacks down to Cave Creek Trail #4 at 5.1 miles.
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