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Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek, AZ
details
drive
permit
forecast
route
stats
1,955
350
31
topics
nearby
Warning
The difficulty rating is for "in-season". There is very little shade on this trail.
HAZ does NOT recommend hiking in temperatures over 90 degrees. June, July & August are potentially deadly.



History
The creek is so heavily charged with minerals that objects such as twigs falling into the creek are quickly coated with layers of travertine, hence the name Fossil Creek.

Permit
May 1st to Oct 1st, view permit info.

Overview
Fossil Springs is a gorgeous riparian area with springs spilling out of the earth everywhere. In several areas there are large pools of crystal clear water that invite you to swim in them. Fern and lush green moss grows randomly everywhere. Once you are in the heart of Fossil Springs you will never believe that you are still in Arizona, and you will not want to leave!

Hike
The trail down is wide and very easy as it was once an old road but is now closed to vehicles. The beginning of the trail is mostly desert but as you descend into the canyon the vegetation changes until you are finally amongst tall Sycamore trees, Oak trees, fern grottos and wild blackberry bushes. Once you reach the bottom of the canyon, you will reach a streambed and the trail then becomes a footpath. Follow it to the west.

Fossil Creek is one of the most reliable, abundant water sources in Northern Arizona and therefore has been used since 1916 to generate hydroelectric power. Rumor has it that Irving Plant is about to be shut down in which case the roads to Fossil Springs will probably not be kept up.

It is 2.76 miles just to the mouth of Fossil Springs, then another 5 miles until you hit Irving Power Plant. Depending on how much you want to explore will determine the length of your trip. Just be sure to leave ample time for your steady climb back UP! I find that is the part I hate! I have also encountered several people who head back up the trail with not nearly enough water - you will need a lot of energy for this hike back out, it is the most difficult part of the whole hike! A great shuttle trip would be to go down the east side and out the Flume rd.

Whatever your choice is, make sure you take most of the time to just soak the gorgeous scenery in and enjoy the sounds of the springs, and the feel of the clean crisp water. As I mentioned in the beginning, I was here before it became popular and it was pristine! I camped there for 4 nights and didn't see a soul all weekend. The past few times I have been there I have run into groups of boy scouts, large church groups, and people everywhere. I saw a lot of trash laying around, and actually had an ugly confrontation with a Boy Scout and his leader because the boy scout was trekking out with a turtle that he decided he wanted to take home to his aquarium - the leader thought this was ok. Needless to say, through several phone calls I went all the way to the regional president of the Western Boy Scouts division to complain. Not sure what good it did to the turtle who was taken from his home, but hopefully people will learn to respect nature.

Years ago before anyone knew about Fossil Springs I backpacked in via the Flume Rd. It was a longer way to get into the Springs, but much more level and flat. But a quicker route into Fossil Springs is the trailhead to the east - directions below. If you choose to go in from this side remember that the climb down is also the climb back up!
Description 350 Triplogs  31 Topics
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 81
 Region
 
0
0
 Verde S
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,580 feet
Elevation Gain -1,420 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,785 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.68
Interest Perennial Creek
Author Dakota
Descriptions 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age
Location Phoenix, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
1  2017-06-04 Booneman
28  2017-04-19 jameslcox44
15  2016-10-22 Uncharted
7  2016-04-22
Fossil Springs Loop
The_N
14  2016-04-16 Uncharted
6  2016-04-11 fricknaley
31  2016-04-05 hikingaz2
35  2016-04-05 rtaylor3235
11  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
johnlp
14  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
trekkin_gecko
15  2015-06-11 Uncharted
16  2015-06-05 DallinW
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 14
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Forest Tonto
Wilderness Fossil Springs
Backpack   Yes & Connecting
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:19pm
Route Scout
import queue
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Waterfall Trail - Fossil Creek
2.4 mi away
2.2 mi
210 ft
Flume Trail
2.5 mi away
8.1 mi
1,180 ft
Nash Point
3.3 mi away
5.2 mi
650 ft
Cane Springs Mountain
3.5 mi away
Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
3.5 mi away
21.6 mi
3,373 ft
Strawberry Mountain
4.4 mi away
4.0 mi
1,199 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
American Hognosed Skunk
American Rubyspot Damselfly
Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
Baird's Old World Swallowtail
Banded Alder Borer Beetle
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Canyon Tree Frog
Centipede
Common Buckeye Butterfly
Dragonfly
Eastern Collared Lizard
Fishing Spider (Dark)
Flame Skimmer
Gopher Snake
Harvestmen
Javelina
Llama
Milkweed Tiger Moth
Red-spotted Purple Butterfly
Ringtail
Skunk
Tarantula
Theona Checkerspot Butterfly
Turkey Vulture
Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly
Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Flora
Antelope Horns
Apple
Arizona Blackberry
Arizona Sycamore
Banana Yucca
Bigtooth Maple
Blackfoot Daisy
Boxelder
Cliff Fendlerbush
Cliff-Rose
Common Sunflower
Feather Dalea
Fremont Cottonwood
Gambel Oak
Indian Paintbrush
Jackass Clover
Juniper
Larkspur (various)
Machaeranthera
Maidenhair Fern
Manzanita
Mountain Mahogany
New Mexico Locust
New Mexico Raspberry
Parry's Penstemon
Pointleaf Manzanita
Rough Prickly Poppy
Silverleaf Nightshade
Skunkbush
Stevia
Twoneedle pinyon
Unidentified Flora
Velvet Ash
Virginia Creeper
Western Wallflower
Yellow Columbine
Geology
Chert
Fort Apache Limestone
Naco Formation
Schnebly Hill Formation
Travertine
Meteorology
Rainbow
Sunset
Named place
Fossil Creek
Fossil Springs
Culture
Camp-fire
Dam - Power Plant
HAZ - Hike HAZard
Informational/Interpretive Trail Sign
Medicine Wheel
Schoolhouse
Swimming Hole
Trail Signs and Markings
Extraordinary, lush, green!
by Dakota

Warning
The difficulty rating is for "in-season". There is very little shade on this trail.
HAZ does NOT recommend hiking in temperatures over 90 degrees. June, July & August are potentially deadly.



History
The creek is so heavily charged with minerals that objects such as twigs falling into the creek are quickly coated with layers of travertine, hence the name Fossil Creek.

Permit
May 1st to Oct 1st, view permit info.

Overview
Fossil Springs is a gorgeous riparian area with springs spilling out of the earth everywhere. In several areas there are large pools of crystal clear water that invite you to swim in them. Fern and lush green moss grows randomly everywhere. Once you are in the heart of Fossil Springs you will never believe that you are still in Arizona, and you will not want to leave!

Hike
The trail down is wide and very easy as it was once an old road but is now closed to vehicles. The beginning of the trail is mostly desert but as you descend into the canyon the vegetation changes until you are finally amongst tall Sycamore trees, Oak trees, fern grottos and wild blackberry bushes. Once you reach the bottom of the canyon, you will reach a streambed and the trail then becomes a footpath. Follow it to the west.

Fossil Creek is one of the most reliable, abundant water sources in Northern Arizona and therefore has been used since 1916 to generate hydroelectric power. Rumor has it that Irving Plant is about to be shut down in which case the roads to Fossil Springs will probably not be kept up.

It is 2.76 miles just to the mouth of Fossil Springs, then another 5 miles until you hit Irving Power Plant. Depending on how much you want to explore will determine the length of your trip. Just be sure to leave ample time for your steady climb back UP! I find that is the part I hate! I have also encountered several people who head back up the trail with not nearly enough water - you will need a lot of energy for this hike back out, it is the most difficult part of the whole hike! A great shuttle trip would be to go down the east side and out the Flume rd.

Whatever your choice is, make sure you take most of the time to just soak the gorgeous scenery in and enjoy the sounds of the springs, and the feel of the clean crisp water. As I mentioned in the beginning, I was here before it became popular and it was pristine! I camped there for 4 nights and didn't see a soul all weekend. The past few times I have been there I have run into groups of boy scouts, large church groups, and people everywhere. I saw a lot of trash laying around, and actually had an ugly confrontation with a Boy Scout and his leader because the boy scout was trekking out with a turtle that he decided he wanted to take home to his aquarium - the leader thought this was ok. Needless to say, through several phone calls I went all the way to the regional president of the Western Boy Scouts division to complain. Not sure what good it did to the turtle who was taken from his home, but hopefully people will learn to respect nature.

Years ago before anyone knew about Fossil Springs I backpacked in via the Flume Rd. It was a longer way to get into the Springs, but much more level and flat. But a quicker route into Fossil Springs is the trailhead to the east - directions below. If you choose to go in from this side remember that the climb down is also the climb back up!
© 2002 - 2017 hikearizona.com

-
  • Fossil Permit Area
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 $$
$6 per car, 148 spaces available.

Apr 1st thru Oct 1st

Fossil Permit Link.


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
First, get to Strawberry area. Turn right (west) on Route 708 (also known as Fossil Creek Road). The road is paved for 2.5 miles then becomes unpaved. Stay on FR 708 to the 81.1 mile point, where you will see the signed road to the trailhead to your right. Turn off on this access road which has some washouts, but can be driven by any car that has reasonable clearance. You will reach the loop parking area at 82 miles.

(directions by HAZ-Member SlipnSlide) Take HWY 87 approx. 90 miles from the McDowell Road. You will pass through Payson, Pine, and then enter Strawberry. Take a left on Fossil Creek Road (There is a yummy cafe on the corner that will inspire you as you drag yourself that last mile on the way back up.) After 5 miles of Fossil creek road turn right when you see signs for the trailhead.

Summer 2012 Notice: Forest Service Road #708 is subject to closures during high traffic. Check out the Coconino "Health & Safety" notice for more information.

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