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Mail Trail #84, AZ

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Camp Verde
2.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,903 feet
Elevation Gain -1,532 feet
Accumulated Gain 282 feet
Avg Time One Way 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.94
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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Vine Fossil Nash Loop
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Upper F.S. Wilderness Exploration
8  2018-03-16 rcorfman
14  2013-04-20 NatureKopelli
12  2012-04-07 burntlizard
9  2009-12-12 toddak
Author toddak
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 5
Photos 1,053
Trips 391 map ( 6,151 miles )
Age 54 Male Gender
Location Puhoynix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → 7 AM
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Hike-able history
by toddak

Likely In-Season!
History: From about 1884 to 1914, a horse and rider carried the mail from Camp Verde to Payson across what is now the rugged Fossil Springs Wilderness, a 50 mile trip that could take up to 18 hours to complete. This remote section of the route from General Crook Trail (now Highway 260) to Fossil Springs was painstakingly researched and reconstructed, with dedication ceremonies for the aptly-named Mail Trail #84 held in September 2006.

Hike: The trail begins across FR 9247B from the parking lot and here's where you begin cairn-spotting. There are 156 of these well-constructed, nicely-spaced cylindrical rock baskets that will guide your steps across the mesa and down into the canyon. For the first 0.75 miles or so you head west, paralleling the highway, before turning to the south somewhere around the tenth cairn. At times you will be on faint trails or old roads, at other times you're essentially cross country, cairn-to-cairn.

As you approach the power lines, take a short jog east along a dirt road that joins the road directly under the power lines, where you go right and cross a cattle guard. Immediately take another dirt road to the left and follow it a short distance, watching for the cairns to branch off into the trees on the right. You eventually rejoin the road, which takes you the rest of the way down to Mail Trail Tank #2 at the edge of the rim, roughly four miles from the trailhead.

NOTE: It is possible to drive a series of dirt roads from the trailhead to Mail Trail Tank #2, but they are very rough in places and would require a high clearance vehicle. Of course, driving there would also mean missing out on the historical trek across the mesa.

Just before you reach Mail Trail Tank #2, be looking for a signpost on the left that is somewhat hidden by a tree. The sign indicates four miles to Fossil Springs. Follow the trail and cairns up a short ridge and then drop down to the Wilderness boundary marker, with big views into Fossil Creek canyon below. The trail down is fairly well defined and marked with cairns and signs as you descend to a plateau above the creek. At some point you will be directly north of Fossil Springs, but there are cliff bands below you and the trail continues traversing well to the east.

As you approach Mud Tanks Draw, the trail gets fainter and the brush and trees become thicker, so that the big rock basket cairns are no longer effective and they quit building them. However, there are occasional ribbons in the trees, blue-painted rocks on the ground, small ducks and enough scattered signposts to keep you more or less on track, and you're close enough now to Fossil Creek that you can't get completely lost. If you get tired of wandering through the scrub, one option would be to just drop into the open, boulder-filled creek bed of Mud Tanks Draw and rock-hop the rest of the way down to Fossil Creek. But if you manage to stay on the official trail, you will also come to Fossil Creek at an unmarked junction. It won't be visible, but directly across Fossil Creek from the junction is a Wilderness sign-in box and the well-established trail that will take you to the springs, located about one mile downstream, as well as the junction with the trail up to the well-used trailhead near Strawberry.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-12-14 toddak
  • Fossil Permit Area
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    Fossil Permit Area
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 Triplog Reviews
Mail Trail #84
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
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.
Mail Trail #84
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I have been searching for a hike that has very few trip logs, I want to avoid redundant or over hiked trails. This one fit the bill, I knew this was the right place when I whipped in to the parking area and it was empty. That was the good news, bad's friggen cold and windy :o like 42* and a good 15 mph breeze. I'm glad my beanie and gloves were still in the truck.

This hike was interesting, the history and nostalgia makes it that way. An old mail trail from the 1890's, cool! It was so rocky though, I mean ROCKY and of course I'm looking for critters and birds and not watching my step :stretch: I saw at least a dozen different bear scat piles...boy they are getting their fiber for sure :lol: And the entire trail system is plum full of Deer and Elk droppings, and lots of hoof prints.

Towards the end of the trail before starting the descent, I ran in to a guy on his quad hunting for Elk antlers, he took the time to school me on the biology of how the antlers fall off....pretty interesting. I only went 1/2 mile or so down the descent and decided to end my day and head back, I wanted to stop by Clear Creek on the way home, plus my right outer knee band was aching.

By the time I got back to my car, I was so done. Really....I was done with the friggen rocks and I was tired and had exhausted all my energy. This trail is ONE AND DONE for me :gun:

P.S. the Blue Jays run the roost in this area. Man... are they elusive though, they squawk and dive bomb as soon as you get close to them...tough to get any good photos of them :(

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
Trailhead is located just off Highway 260 at milepost 239.6 (around 20 miles east of Camp Verde). Turn south on FR 9247B and go 0.1 miles to a large parking area on the left.
page created by toddak on Dec 14 2009 9:26 pm
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