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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek, AZ

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Guide 362 Triplogs  31 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
4.1 of 5 by 112
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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
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Enjoy the slideshow!
24  2019-06-08
Vine Canyon Loop
12  2019-06-08
Vine Fossil Nash Loop
21  2019-06-08
Vine Canyon Loop
12  2019-03-28
Upper F.S. Wilderness Exploration
1  2018-09-28 larbrad
3  2018-03-24 gummo
12  2018-03-17
Fossil Springs Loop
14  2018-02-17
Nash Point - alt Fossil Springs
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Author Dakota
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:30pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Extraordinary, lush, green!
by Dakota

Likely In-Season!
The difficulty rating is for "in-season". There is very little shade on this trail.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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.

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

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!

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!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2002-02-21 Dakota
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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.

Most recent of 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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Fossil Springs trail on a Monday.. We had our permit for the "8 mile hike"... however, if you go to the waterfall/dam/toilet bowl, it's and extra mile or so. The springs were flowing and beautiful, but we spent all of our down time at the waterfall area. Since we arrived at the parking lot at 8:30am.. we were the first one's down here and had the place to ourselves, which was a treat. We were in the water and swimming a bit (temperature outside and in the water was perfect). On the way back to the lot we passed many people coming down for the day... have to guess they arrived at the lot around 1030/11.... mostly teenagers and young adults -- sorry we missed them at the falls.. they may have been daring enough to jump off of the dam.
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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We drove from Mesa, arrived at the TH at about 9:35am. It was the perfect day for a visit to Fossil Springs and then down to the waterfall and toilet bowl. We obtained our permit and parking pass ahead of time and there was a ranger at the very beginning of the road to check that all things were in order. I hadn't been down to Fossil Creek in several years - last time was in my car! The TH is only about 2 miles after leaving the pavement and there appears to be parking for about 20-25 vehicles. The trail is well marked. The only confusion was that all of the signs at the TH state that "this trail does not go to the waterfall". Well, we had hoped to go to both the spring and the waterfall so we just hoped for the best when we got down there. We descended in about an hour & half, trail is rocky in some places and so we were careful not to slip. We arrived at the bottom and the trail crosses the dry creek bed at one point, just look for a wooden sign hanging from a tree on the other side and you'll know where to go. Soon you get to a fork in the trail that is going down the north side of the creek bed - that sign points you to the spring. It is a short walk to the spring and it is worth seeing - there's a good flow of water coming right up from the ground - although when you get further down the creek you wonder how could that amount of water soon turn into much more water??!! We back-tracked from the Spring back to the trail and took the route that is marked by another trail sign that says "To Dam". From there, it is only about a half mile to the waterfall and toilet bowl. What a magnificent sight and location!! And, we had it all to ourselves which is amazing - not a soul there (although we encountered 5 hikers ascending while we were descending). We swam (water was cool, but not really take-your-breath-away cold) and relaxed for about an hour, then started back up. On the way up we passed 15 or so more people going down - one playing rather loud annoying music - glad we weren't going to be needing to share the serenity of the creek with that background music! We climbed steadily and made it out in about the same time it took to descend - an hour and a half. All the way up my daughter and I were commenting about how much we LOVE Arizona. We live in the best state!! A comment to all hikers and campers (if allowed) who've done this trail - thank you to all - it is so clean down there, I didn't see any trash. Pats on the back! :app:
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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Fossil Springs Loop
Up in Pine with one of my sons for the weekend. He'd never been to Fossil Springs before and this one fit the bill perfectly.

We got this in before the permit system starts again on April 1st.

It was cool enough to keep the crowds down, not not cold enough to keep people from swimming. There was even a guy that was just finishing up in a wet suit and an air tank at the waterfall off the Waterfall Trail.

Beautiful clear skies with puffy Fraley's. We hiked the CCW route, opting for the steady climb to finish.

The Dam Waterfall Area
[ youtube video ]

Slow Motion Waterfall off the Waterfall Trail
[ youtube video ]

Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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Nash Point - alt Fossil Springs
Nash Point had been on my radar for some time, but I needed something else to make it worthwhile.

I spotted a two track down the south side of Nash Point and what appeared to be a route from the Nash Pasture area, east, to get down into Fossil Springs. It looked to be steep and I had no idea if it'd work out... Only one way to find out.

I got dropped off close to the top of SR87 , by MM 273 and started in on FR9365R. The just under 3 mile walk to Nash Point is nothing to write home about, but the payoff are the the views from atop the Nash Point rocky out cropping. Fossil Springs to the West, Mazzy's to the south, Milk Ranch Point/Strawberry Mountain to the SE, Sandrock and Calf Pen Canyons to the NE, The snow covered "Peaks" to the north.
Video = :next: [ youtube video ]

The two track off of the Nash Point area was rocky but short lived. Nash Pasture area is pretty and pine covered. I walked the next two track to the point I was going to drop into Fossil Springs. I was astonished how good of a trail this was. It's 0.65 mile to meet up with Fossil Springs #18. This unmarked/unnamed use trail deteriorates just a bit as it gets closer to the real trail, but is never hard to follow until the last 100' or so. Probably obscured on purpose by the Forest Service. Because of its steepness, it's unlikely you'll see the Beer Cooler crowd using this trail.

Next stop was the Fossil Springs Dam area. I took the turn for the spring area first to check it out first
Video = :next: [ youtube video ]

At the Dam area there was one small group of 4 actually swimming below the Dam in the 62 degree weather. I had my lunch here and then hiked up to the Fossil Springs TH to catch my ride out.
Video = :next: [ youtube video ]
Video = :next: [ youtube video ]

If you are going to hit Fossil Springs and don't need to do the whole swimming thing, now's the time to hit it. No permit is required until April and there are no crowds. I probably ran into 12-20 people across the 7 miles I was on Fossil Springs #18
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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1. This was my first time to Fossil Creek. I had made two previous attempts, pre-permit system.

2. I have been involved in the post-dam removal restoration research and the subsequent stakeholder meetings that led to the permit system. I like the permit system. It was cleaner than I expected...just as beautiful...and JUST as busy as I expected.

3. Still a great time! I would do it again.

4. We went on my birthday weekend and stayed at a friend's cabin in Strawberry.
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Rim-to-rim-to-rim from the MT84 trailhead. I'd forgotten how little of the Mail Trail is actually a trail, its mostly cross-country over annoyingly rocky terrain. Even the rock baskets aren't much help in a lot of areas where the huge junipers limit the sight distance. Subtracted a rating point.
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Last time I went to Fossil Creek, I came from the Camp Verde side. ~15mi of washboard road though? Seriously? Never again!!! So now--to find out how it is coming from the Strawberry side . . .

Had a nice hike down to the toilet bowl. I made the mistake of going in--and I'm supposed to be the no-nonsense, cautious one! Was kinda scary in there . . . I swam in from the outside, but once you're inside, the bubbles make it hard to see the way out. Anyhow . . . I'm still in the land of the living--there's a rope tied through the toilet bowl opening, and if you hold your breath and follow it out, you're golden.

The hike out was pretty miserable . . . I wouldn't suggest taking the ascent out until the sun is low in the sky. BUT there was a ridiculous storm this night, and we barely got out of the canyon before it started up, so I'll count my blessings. The hail was so strong coming down the 17 that people pulled over on the side of the highway.
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
finally made the trip out to fossil springs. rained on my drive in but stopped when i got there and i actually had nice weather for the hike. plus side of sketchy weather (plus a monday) is that i had the whole hike to myself. :)

fossil springs is pretty impressive. farther down the waterfall/damn and toilet bowl are very impressive. i crossed over and checked them out from both sides. awesome area, i can definitely see the draw.
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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Great Day for a hike, Dustin's leaving tomorrow for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where it snowed a foot yesterday and the high temp. tomorrow is 12 degrees :lone: Thanks to Bob for all his hospitality during Dustin's stay and for lunch today. :y: This is a fabulous hike and well worth the effort both in a 200 mile round trip ride to the TH and in the hike itself. There are signs and warnings everywhere about everything from proper footwear to heat exhaustion. One sign stated that 177 people had been rescued from this trail in the past year, however, we did not find it particularly challenging compared to the usual hikes we take in the Superstition Mountains almost weekly. :SB: The Springs and the Falls were spectacular, everyone took a dip and had lunch in front of the falls, great fun!! : app :
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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What a Hike Rick put together, we had it all to ourselves till we were getting ready to leave :D :y: I can't say much more then the last 336 Triplogs had to say--- If you have never done this hike --- get going, you will not regret. It rocks :y: 8) : king : : app : :DANCE: :bdh: :worthy:

Permit $$
$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

Map Drive
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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