Clay Mine Trail – Cave Creek Regional Park
The Clay Mine Trail is a short and easy hike that is part of the larger Cave Creek Regional Park. It is the easiest hike in the park, but you shouldn’t pass up the trail because of this. At the end of the trail lies the Clay Mine, an interesting way to end the hike, and an opportunity to catch a much needed cool breeze from the cave. Leaving the nature center parking lot, head north following the sign for Overton Trail.
Approximately 100 feet down the trail, another turn appears. Turn left (east) here, following the Overton Trail until it meets the Go John Trailhead. You could have just started at the Go John Trailhead, but most hikers start this quick trail from the nature center. Keep walking east, and you will see the sign for the Go John Trail. The trail leads uphill at this point, but it’s an easy grade. Follow this trail for a short quarter of a mile where you will see another intersection, Cave Creek Trail.
Follow this trail the short 1 ½ miles through one more intersection. Approximately 100 yards from the end of the trail is an interesting abandoned mine. This mine was owned and operated by Leila Irish, and whereas the mine contained no gold, it did contain something else– clay. Seeing a business opportunity, Irish bottled and sold the clay as a “cure-all”. Although the clay was useless for most ailments, it did supposedly work well for dysentery. If only this elixir were available on The Oregon Trail game, less of my characters would have died from dysentery.
Once you’ve reached the end of the trail and have exited to the campground, you can turn back around and retrace your steps or just walk down to the main road and walk to the nature center. You can’t park anywhere at the campground, and a shuttle for a trip this short would be weird, so take your time and walk back to your vehicle. If you have just a short couple of hours to spend in the Cave Creek Regional Park, this is an excellent and easy hike that anyone can hike on. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and if you have some extra time in your day, check out some of the other trails in this park. Otherwise, spending $7 to access the park is too expensive for such a quick hike.
Directions to the Overton Trailhead
Enter Cave Creek Regional Park (37019 N Lava Ln, Cave Creek, AZ 85331), pay your $8 entrance fee and drive past the horse stables to the well-signed Overton Trailhead. Alternatively, you can also begin this hike at the next trailhead down, Go John Trailhead.
Map to the Overton Trailhead