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Sears-Kay Ruins

On our way to Bartlett Lake, we ended up at the Sears-Kay ruins instead! How? Well, we unfortunately were in a line to go behind a pilot car to take us on a newly paved road. The Pilot car was taking a long time, and honestly, Pilot cars are a different thing here than anywhere else I have ever experienced. A Pilot car will show you where people are supposed to drive. Sometimes the pilot car will take a turn unexpectedly and it can be chaotic. I do not like driving on newly paved roads (the asphalt smell plus possibly damage to my car, no thanks!) So, we ended up checking out the area and finding the Sears-Kay Ruins.

Directions: From Carefree, take Cave Creek Road/Seven Springs Rd./Forest Road (FR) 24 for 14 miles north to Sears Kay.


The Sears-Kay Ruins are located just inside of the Tonto National forest. This fort was built around 1050 AD and abandoned around 1200AD.

The fort was discovered by soldiers from nearby Fort McDowell in 1867. It was named the Sears-Kay ruins because it was located near the Sears-Kay ranch.

There is one mystery room that has rounded corners. However, all of the other rooms had corners!

There is no fee to the ruins as of 2021. There is one bathroom at the site but no running water. Plan a picnic and bring a lunch because there are picnic tables and ramadas. There is parking for 8 cars. No water access at this location.

The trail information guide says that it was steep, but we have been on trails that were much, much steeper. I would say that it was a teeny bit steep. You can’t bring a stroller, but a 3 year old could easily do the trail! It gives some beautiful views.

The sides were not very steep, so you could have your little one with you, but be careful! There was also the other path that you can see winding through the hill. We meant to take that one down, but my oldest missed the turn!

The foot rock was a highlight of the trip. Not the ruins, but the foot rock. It was huge, and my kids told my husband about this first.

There were lots of signs about the Hohokam people and technology. It was a great place to learn about the history of Arizona!

Have you ever wondered if the Hohokam touched these rocks? Maybe, maybe not!

There are still many mysteries about the area, and it is so interesting to try to figure out what the Hohokam were doing during this time. What do you think they were doing?

This prickly pear cactus was burned during a fire, Please be wary of fires and don’t throw any cigarettes or anything else that may be incendiary when you are in the desert. Especially if it is dry or there are high wind warnings!

My goofballs in front of the Four Peaks. I love that I’m trying to get a nice picture and Dimples is showing his sandwich! AHHHH!!

This was an amazing, and easy trail for the kids. The road around this area is also super fun to go around as it feels like a roller coaster. However, you do not want to be in this area when it rains, because it WILL flood. There were a lot of ATV-ers in the area too.

If you are looking for any other hikes that have great history for Hohokam, there are so many in the valley. I’ll make up a post and also check out the Pueblo Grande Museum.

The Basics

Directions: From Carefree, take Cave Creek Road/Seven Springs Rd./Forest Road (FR) 24 for 14 miles north to Sears Kay.

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