The Cave Creek Trail – Trail #288 is a 4 mile long trail that begins from the Cave Creek Campground and ends at a junction with the Skyline Trail – Trail #251.
Trail Conditions: Good to Excellent
From the parking lot, start walking through the campground past the three sided shelters. After about 100 yards, you’ll cross a bridge to the east side of Cave Creek.
After a short ways, the trail will branch. The upper trail is the official trail, but the two will eventually reconnect. The trail stays above the creek for the next .8 miles before entering a small, hillside meadow where the horse trail rejoins the main trail at a signed junction. Continue to follow the trail upstream.
After the junction with the horse trail, you will reach a junction with the Dockweiler Trail – Trail #259. Continue straight to continue to follow Cave Creek.
After another mile, the trail reaches the confluence of Cave Creek and Panchuleta Creek. Cross over Panchuleta Creek on the rough log bridge and continue to follow Cave Creek upstream.
A short ways after the confluence, there will be a sign on the trail indicating a no camping area. Make your way down to the creek on the side trail to get a glimpse of the creek’s namesake caves.
Continuing on the trail, up to this point the grade has been relatively level. In the last 1.5 miles before the junction, however, the trail becomes much steeper. It leaves the creek as it climbs high above the water, below.
Despite the steep grade, there are frequent stopping points and level sections to provide a brief respite. The majority of the trail is in excellent condition. There are a few downed trees in this final section, but it is still easy to follow.
In the last 1/4 mile before the junction with the Skyline Trail – Trail #251, the trail flattens and starts to return to the creek finally reaching the creek at the junction.
Go left, crossing the creek, to climb up toward Johnson and Stewart Lakes. Continue straight, to continue north toward Horsethief Meadows.