Sears-Kay Ruins - Tonto National Forest
I have driven by these ruins many times on my way to Seven Springs. Today I decided to slow down and explore.
These are living quarters and storage rooms in the secondary area. This is the view looking southwest at Carefee and Phoenix. Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak in the distance. South Mountain in the far distance.
One of the great things about hiking in Arizona is the perspective it gives you.
Sooner or later you'll come across a few potsherds, a panel of weathered petroglyphs or even a stretch of low rock walls. When you do, you can't help but reflect upon the transient nature of so much human endeavor.
A thousand years ago, a network of Hohokam villages stretched across much of what is now southern Arizona. The Hohokam, ancestors of today's Pima Indians, grew corn, beans and squash, and they harvested what they could from native plants such as mesquite and prickly pear. They hunted small game, traded goods with their neighbors and designed and built an elaborate system of canals, which later became the basis of the modern Valley.
The remnants of one of their villages stand on a hilltop nearly 10 miles east of Cave Creek. The Sears-Kay Ruin, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, takes its name from J.M. Sears, who founded the Sears-Kay Ranch in the area in 1887. Archaeologists say the 40-room site once provided shelter for 100 people or so.
The ruins stand about halfway around a loop, overlooking the usually dry bed of Camp Creek. Signs throughout the ruins relate the history of the site, which was occupied from about 1050 to 1200. Most rooms - now just rows of rough rock walls a foot or two high - were built around open courtyards that were used for daily activities.