Hike Through History and Recent Fire Devastation
One of our favorite hikes near the Phoenix area are the Sears-Kay Indian ruins in the Tonto National Forest. The Sears-Kay Indian Ruins are a short drive North of Phoenix. The area was victim to a terrible forest fire in September 2020, and many of the Saguaros were killed. (See below for before and after photos.)
The hike is one of our favorites because it has the historical Indian ruins and also because it has been very interesting to track its recovery after the fire.
There is a bathroom at the trailhead, but no running water.
Hohokam Ancient Indians
It is one of our favorite hikes, because on the hike you will see the remains of what once was a fortification of the Hohokam culture, called the Sear-Kay Ruins. Helpful signs help you envision the rooms in the homes. (See the photos below.) The stones remaining from the dwellings are approximately a foot and a half high. It is easy to see the various rooms in the ancient homes.
The Hohokam occupied the area around 1500 AD.
The Sears Fire
On September 25, 2020 a fire sparked near Forest Service Road and Sears Kay Ranch, including part of the Sears Kay Ruins. In total over 14,000 acres burned. Four homes and 10 outbuildings burned and numerous cars were lost in the fire. Firefighters fought the fire through October 4, 2020. As you can see from the photos below, the fire destroyed the park and killed most of the vegetation.
The one-mile loop trail goes through beautiful desert landscape, and at the peak of the hike is the Sears-Kay Ruins. The ruins are on the National Register of Historic Places.
To get to the Sears-Kay Ruins there is a relatively easy uphill hike if you start on the North Trail entrance. If you continue on the loop, there are some slightly steep trails going down from the Ruins.
On the way down, we briefly went down the wrong trail. We realized our error and backtracked to where the trail turns to go down.
Before the fire at Sears-Kay in September 2020
Sears Kay Ruins After the Fire
The Ancient Indian Ruins
In addition to the Sears Kay Ruins, there are a lot of great winter hikes in the Phoenix area. We document our favorites in the Arizona Hiking section of our website.