You just never know what's going to happen on the trail. This trail takes you to the remains of an old resort that burned down in the early sixties. People came to enjoy the hot springs out in the middle of nowhere. Today you can hike to the area and enjoy the cement formed pool free of charge. You must cross the Verde River, this is potentially dangerous. Beware of flooding. It's best to wait several days after the last rain to let any runoff pass through.
The main reason I avoided this trip in the past was that I never understood the route to the springs. Good news, it's not to difficult to find. You could cross the river near the campgrounds but it's at least neck high and you'll be swimming. So from the campgrounds there is an old rusty sign telling you it's 1 mile to the river crossing. I'm not sure it's that far but it's at least a mile including the walk on the other side. Immediately onto the trail you cross over the (I believe) still functioning Childs Power Plant bridge. This bridge goes over the water gushing and I mean gushing out of the turbines. It's totally awesome.
Soon the trail goes down to the river and follows it upstream. There isn't really a distinctive trail all the way, just keep going upstream. You are going upstream to where a road dips into the river. Cross there and head back down to the old resort on the other side.
You could probably figure it out from there but here's some additional information. Power lines cross the river twice on the way up. There are large red metal balls in the middle of the power lines. The trail high banks at the first power line. Here you could go up and follow the road down to the river. Personally I just came right back down and continued along the river. The second power line is near the crossing just past a fish sign. Also on the way up you will see a palm tree or two on the other side of the river. That's where you are headed. Actually you pass the trees and continue on upstream where the road dips into the creek. The reason you pass the resort and come back down is because the river is shallow and you might not have to swim.
To make it even easier there is a Coconino Forest message board and run down restrooms just before the road dips into river. I'm not sure but this may have been an old trailhead. There were no maps or messages on the old looking Coconino sign. The old restrooms are blocked by bushes and trees.
Okay now you must cross the river. Along the way you may have noticed you never really saw the remains of the resort on the other side. This is because there is an island separating the banks. When I crossed I actually crossed three sections of water. Each about fifteen feet long give or take a little. I believe the water has cut through the island diagonally at this end and that's why there was three crossings to get across one river.
1 The first was swift and came up to my knees. I'm six feet tall for reference. I found that walking slowly facing the current made it easier to keep my balance. I nearly always wear Teva river sandals and this was one of the few times I really needed them. The water was perfect temperature and very refreshing. So I made it across the first section of water.
2 Then pushed through the tall grasses a tad bit upstream to another crossing. As I mentioned I believe this is where the water has cut through the island diagonally. There are cool looking rapids as the water goes downhill over the rocks. Not to worry though. Just a tad bit up upstream it's fairly shallow. So the middle section was below my knees. The current wasn't as swift but the ground seemed rockier.
3 Okay now onto the third and final crossing. This proved to be the deepest. I stepped in and it was knee deep right away. Inching across it continued to get higher. It was highest just before the other side which came up to mid thigh. I pulled up shorts and managed to somehow stay dry. Not that it mattered. I was more concerned about falling with my camera equipment.
Once on the other side continue back downstream to the hot springs. I'm not really a hot springs nut. I've seen a number in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Nevertheless it was interesting. There is a small cave. Water channels out and over into the pool through a small cement canal. I dipped my feet into the pool basically to wash off the sand from the trail. Yep it was warm. Just as I was beginning to enjoy the moment a woman popped up out of the pool and I jumped about twenty feet. Then I notice a man standing in the pool house doorway. I forgot to mention. When you first enter the campgrounds there is a sign telling you nudity is prohibited. Ahhh, well these folks made their own rules. They where extremely nice but I decided I like my tan lines and headed on back.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry
To hike From Phoenix head north on I-17 exit on 287 and head east on SR 260. Pass through Camp Verde and continue on just past mile marker 228 to the somewhat signed turnoff to the right onto FR 708. Follow FR 708 13.7 beautiful but bumpy & sometimes scary miles to the junction with FR 502. Hang a right on FR 502 and follow this 6.2 miles to the campgrounds and trailhead. The last 0.2 miles straight down to the campgrounds main be to rough for a passenger car. It's fairly steep and washed. You might just want to walk that section and save yourself some trouble on the way out.
Warning: heat kills!
Avoid 8am to 6pm over 90 degrees. Prehydrate & stay hydrated. Avoid Heat Illness - do NOT hike when temps exceed 100 degrees, period.