Cave Creek, Arizona: Sears Kay Ruin Hike & Big Earl’s Greasy Eats

Odometer (Legend):  531,609


Odometer (ILX):  99,625


Trip Distance:  81 Miles


Let’s get the heck out of town!  In the matter of a short 3-hour jaunt today, my friends and I squoze (squeezed?) in a scenic drive, a hike, and some great grub.  I’d say this Sunday funday got off to a really nice start.  This morning, my friend Jack, Ian, and Brian stopped by to ride as passengers in the ILX as we headed to the hills northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.  We made our way northbound on Loop 101 and Pima Rd, followed by a turn down Cave Creek Road toward its dirt road terminus.  Our first stop included a history lesson.


Sears Kay Ruin has a self-guided hike that we stopped to get a closer look at.  Historians believe this site was occupied between 1050 and 1200 AD by the native Hohokam people.  The place gets its name from a rancher who occupied the area in 1887.  The site at one time was elaborate with 40 rooms or more, but today the walls are weathered and worn down to just a couple of feet high.  From the parking area, the one-mile loop was steep at times but not overly strenuous.  The 360-degree views were worth every drop of sweat.


After the hike, we headed out in the ILX toward the end of the pavement on Cave Creek Road.  The twisties got a little more intense but the pavement was fresh so conditions were right for having a little bit of cornering fun.  The ILX definitely handles differently when I’ve got 3 passengers as opposed to when it’s just me.  I actually prefer how “planted” it feels when there’s a little more weight in the car.


When I see a sign that says “Pavement Ends,” it’s usually more an invitation than a warning.  It only encourages me to keep pressing onward to see what might lie around the next bend.  Further up the dirt road lies Seven Springs Campground was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and has 25 different sites.  It’s 9 miles 0f narrow gravel road with blind curves at times, but you can bet I’ll be going back to explore its entirety soon.


Our last stop was at a lunch destination with a very odd name:  Big Earl’s Greasy Eats started out as a 1935 Standard Oil gas station in Phoenix but was moved in the 1950’s to its current location in Carefree, Arizona.  Since 2002, it’s operated as a restaurant.  The menu consisted of standard diner-type fare, and I opted for the mushroom & Swiss hamburger accompanied by some sweet potato fries.  All in all, a perfect mini adventure and a nice escape with friends.  Thanks for joining us for the drive!

Parking at Sears Kay trailhead


Information on the Sears Kay history


Some of the ruins.  These have been reinforced over the years.


Ian, Brian, Tyson


Jack posted this snazzy pic of me behind the wheel.  Follow him on Instagram!


Here’s a look at Cave Creek Road, just prior to where it turns to dirt at the north end.


Menu at Big Earl’s


Parking at Big Earl’s


Tyson and Jack enjoying the weather in Cave Creek, Arizona


Patio at Big Earl’s


Ian strutting his stuff at Big Earl’s


6 Responses to “Cave Creek, Arizona: Sears Kay Ruin Hike & Big Earl’s Greasy Eats”

  1. I’ll take a medium bacon swiss burger! No fries please.

    • That sounds like a great choice to me – but I promise you’re missing out on the fries! It’s “greasy” Earl’s after all – they’re known for the unhealthy stuff.

  2. Hopefully you get a perfect shot of 100,000 miles! I think I would faint if you snapped a pic at 100,001….

  3. sounds like a nice “short” drive and adventure. BIG EARL’S reminds me of XXX root beer.

    • You’re right! The vibe was a bit like XXX as well. Except Earl’s had a volleyball court in back. One of these days I’ll have to find out when they have games.

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