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Fossil Creek - Mazatzal Wilderness Area, AZ

Guide 36 Triplogs  15 Topics
  4.3 of 5 
451 36 15
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,369 feet
Elevation Gain -826 feet
Accumulated Gain 307 feet
Avg Time One Way 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.02
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2017-11-19
Stehr to Childs via Fossil-Verde
7  2017-11-19
Stehr to Childs via Fossil-Verde
14  2016-04-04 MountainMatt
8  2016-03-30 MountainMatt
11  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
14  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
42  2015-05-08 Fatesjoke
22  2014-08-30
Twin Buttes to Fossil Creek
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author TM1ssKDMac
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 10
Photos 4,110
Trips 38 map ( 348 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Joseph City, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:38am - 7:27pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2021 Backbone Fire114.9 mi**

The New Fossil Creek!
by TM1ssKDMac

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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.

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2007-11-05 TM1ssKDMac
    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.

    Permit $$
    S_397.jpg $6 per car, 148 spaces available.

    Apr 1st thru Oct 1st

    Fossil Creek - Need to Know Info
    Understand info in above & check/get permits below
    Fossil Vehicle Permits
    Bob Bear Trailhead

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Camp Verde: Drive East on US 260 towards Payson. From the bridge over the Verde River in Camp Verde, drive east 6.75 miles to the turnoff for Fossil Creek Road. This is a gravel road that will be on your right as you approach it. GPS location for this intersection is: 34.505295, -111.759984.

    Follow Fossil Creek Road for 13.5 miles to its junction with Childs Power Plant Road at 34.394109, -111.650087. Turn right onto Childs Power Plant Road and drive about 1.25 miles to the Parking areas mentioned above.

    From Strawberry: At the intersection of US 87 and Fossil Creek Road at 34.407846, -111.493347. Drive west on Fossil Creek Road for 12.1 miles to the intersection of Fossil Creek Road and Childs Power Plant Road at 34.394109, -111.650087. Bear left at this junction and continue for 1.25 miles to the parking area noted above.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool
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