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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
The New Fossil Creek!
This description covers the lower and less traveled (But no less enchanting!) portion of Fossil Creek, downstream of the Fossil Creek Wilderness Area, from where the creek enters the Mazatzal Wilderness Area to its confluence with the Verde River.
May 1st to Oct 1st, view permit info.
Here is a relatively easy hike through a very scenic canyon. Campsites are numerous, and swimming holes abound. These make the creek an excellent place for a day trip or three-day weekend. It's up to you. Fossil Creek is a great place to enjoy a little dose of Mother Nature and a swell dip in the refreshing waters of Fossil Creek. I will caution that due to the nature of the canyon, you must cross the creek from time to time, and you will get wet. Also of note is the fact that, for the most part, there is no trail. Route finding is required as you follow the creek on your adventure. The footing is excellent in the stream due to the substantial deposits of Calcium Chloride deposited on everything that the creek water touches.
There are several spots near the creek where you can park just off of the Childs Power Plant Road just before it starts climbing the hill up to where Stehr Lake used to be. (It was part of the flume system that directed water to the Childs Power Plant, and with the decommissioning of the power plant and the removal of the flume, the lake has dried up) Approximate GPS coordinates for the area to park at are: 34.380950, -111.659347. This is right at the edge of the Mazatzal Wilderness boundary.
From the parking areas, proceed downstream along the creek. You will immediately enter the Mazatzal Wilderness Area. There is a trail for the first several hundred yards, but it soon disappears once you get beyond the range of the day-trippers and cooler draggers. The creek winds through the canyon 6-7 miles from the parking area to its confluence with the Verde River. At this point, you have two options. You can return upstream along Fossil Creek to your vehicle, or this would be a nice shuttle hike if you turn right and head upstream along the Verde for about 3.5 miles to the campgrounds at Childs. Reversing the route is an option too. GPS location for the Verde River and Fossil Creek confluence is: 34.305986, -111.675529.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.