New River Mesa divides the drainages of New River on the west and Cave Creek on the east. This mesa is very prominent when hiking the Cave Creek trail and can be easily spotted from miles around as a long, almost perfectly flat object on the horizon. Typical of most of the mesas in the area, the top of New River Mesa is mostly covered in grass which is not green but light brown most of the year. Juniper trees are scattered here and there and there are different types of low-growing cacti and yuccas.
Scenery along the New River Mesa trail
Drive Cave Creek Road east from the town of Cave Creek until you enter the Tonto National Forest and the road becomes known as Road 24/Cave Creek Road/Seven Springs Road. Just past Sears-Kay Ruins, Road 24 becomes unpaved, but usually it is passable in a passenger car. Follow Road 24 past Seven Springs Campground to the junction with Road 41 (New River Canyon) - travelling Road 41 will require a high-clearance vehicle. Drive Road 41 for about 2 miles to and then go south on Road 17. Depending on your vehicle, the road conditions, your driving skills and the amount of time you'd like to spend in the vehicle as opposed to hiking, you can hike or try to drive the remaining 2 miles on Road 17 to the base of New River Mesa. I prefer to hike it.
From the end of Road 17, a "Jeep trail" continues up to the top of the mesa, about 400 feet of elevation gain. The trail is very rocky with many medium size boulders that slip and roll around. Once on top of the mesa, however, the trail becomes a compact dirt path of varying width which is easy to follow. The trail continues south across New River Mesa with excellent scenery. After about 4 miles or so the southern end of the mesa is reached and the trail turns west and appears to disappear within a couple miles on near the southwestern edge of New River Mesa.
Views of New River Canyon, Cave Creek and the New River Mountains are great from all points along the trail.
Camping is permitted in the Tonto National Forest.
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