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Fish Creek Trail #60, AZ

Guide 8 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
5 of 5 
no permit
30 8 0
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 11.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,128 feet
Elevation Gain -2,219 feet
Accumulated Gain 130 feet
Avg Time One Way 4-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.13
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
1  2010-06-24 azbackpackr
9  2007-07-03 BelladonnaTook
11  2003-09-01 BelladonnaTook
9  2003-07-11 fatoldsun
Author BelladonnaTook
author avatar Guides 12
Routes 9
Photos 1,291
Trips 58 map ( 568 miles )
Age 75 Male Gender
Location Lakeside, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Autumn
Sun  5:26am - 7:21pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2018 Rattlesnake Fire26.1k
🔥 2011 Wallow Fire29.45
🔥 2009 Reno Fire24.9 mi*
🔥 2003 Steeple Fire20.7 mi*
🔥 1971 Junction Fire15.0 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles
Nearby Area Water
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Meteorology Nearby
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Drop Dead Gorgeous
by BelladonnaTook

Likely In-Season!
Trail is reported overgrown. Be sure to use a map or the Official Route.

The area where this trail is located has been severely affected by the Wallow Fire.

The directions to Fish Creek Trail provided by Alpine Ranger District seem direct enough until you try to apply them to the maze of roads in the area. About 2.75 miles south of Buffalo Crossing, at Bear Creek which is plainly labeled, FR 24 forks. FR 83 is the right fork; it is not labeled. About 3 miles up FR 83, FR 83A turns off to the right. Both these roads are graveled and negotiable by standard vehicles. 1.4 miles along FR 83A, a rutted dirt trail branches to the left. A large sign here indicates the way past a corral and onto the trailhead. This last half mile requires high clearance.

A kiosk at the trailhead provides a logbook and various pamphlets about wolves, bears, etc. The trail begins just to the left of the kiosk and leads immediately down and westward. This is actually Fish Creek Access Trail #320 and appears at first to be a continuation of the road into the trailhead. It's in good shape and extends just a half-mile to the canyon bottom, the creek and the actual Fish Creek Trail #60. The latter apparently leads upstream toward Hannagan Meadow as well as downstream toward Black River.

The way downstream is clear and well-groomed with frequent creek crossings - in excess of 20, perhaps as many as 30 in 5.5 miles. At this writing, during a particularly wet monsoon, the creek is running full and will frustrate attempts to boulder hop across. Footwear suitable for wading is essential, and sandals are entirely suitable. A hunter who walked this way in another season in another year reported he could step across the creek at will without wetting his feet.

Elevation at creek level decreases from 7500 to 6800 feet. Aspens proliferate near the trail's upper end, and pines and firs, many of them quite large, are plentiful along the entire route. Dense thickets give way to extensive, open parks that gradually revert again to thickets. The overall feeling is one of growth and vitality. This greatly resembles Bear Wallow; however, there's little indication that anyone camps here.

About 3.5 miles downstream, the trail enters a blowdown area. Forest Service literature indicates the possibility of a tornado. Something certainly cleared an area of a hundred or more acres on both sides of the creek. Young trees are growing here again, but the hulks of several hundred broken and uprooted mature individuals litter the ground.

A mile above the confluence with Black River, a fish barrierprevents introduced species from Black River encroaching on Fish Creek's pure Apache trout population. Upstream from here, water levels may drop in dry years, but numerous deep pools provide shelter where fish can survive several drought seasons. There is no indication that fishing is prohibited or restricted; nor is there any sign people fish here.

5.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail passes through a fence, intersects another trace approaching from the east, passes an ad hoc campground apparently used by folks adept at fashioning stone furniture, and concludes on the bank of Black River. Wildcat bridge is a mile downstream, which suggests another means of accessing Fish Creek Trail. Unfortunately, the walk from Wildcat involves wading the river 5 to 7 times and upsetting an osprey family that built its nest in a snag right by the trail. Involving 2 vehicles, the shuttle from Wildcat bridge to the trailhead is about 25 miles (3.5 as the crow flies) and takes an hour.

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2003-09-01 BelladonnaTook
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Apache - Sitgreaves FS Details
Fish Creek Access Trail drops into the narrow forested canyon from a high bench that overlooks both the Black River and Fish Creek drainages. Once on the floor of the canyon it wanders downstream along Fish Creek past pools, riffles, and stepping-stone stream crossings to the point where this tributary and the Black River join. Along the way it passes an area where what is reported to have been a tornado left its mark on the forest. Dozens of downed trees make the point that nature can bring change to the forest in a number of ways.

Travelers along this trail should know that they have the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club to thank for the considerable sections of it that are in good to excellent shape. Although the Fish Creek Access Trail has been used by the Forest Service for over 50 years for moving fire fighters and other personnel through the backcountry, it fell into disrepair after 1970 when maintenance was discontinued for lack of funds and interest. At that point the task of keeping the trail open was left to ranchers who continued to use it to move cattle between Fish Bench and the Fish Creek drainage. The trail stayed open but became quite rough in a number of places. During the summers of 1990 and 1991 three volunteer work groups, consisting of two Sierra Club and one American Hiking Society trips, were successful in restoring and reconstructing the entire 5.5 miles from Fish Creek Access Trail to the Black River.

Trout anglers will be interested to know that Fish Creek harbors a pure population of Arizona's state fish, the Apache trout. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has installed a barrier across the creek to keep introduced rainbow trout from swimming upstream from the Black River and hybridizing with the population of threatened natives. The native trout in Fish Creek are not large. They average about 8". Larger rainbows are available in the Black River. But even if your biggest catch here is the scenery or an afternoon of streamside relaxing you'll find this pleasant path an excellent place to enjoy a day trip or an overnight hike.

Trail Log:
0.0 From trailhead posterboard follow trail across a flat rocky area to where it drops down a rocky point into the canyon.
0.6 Junction with Fish Creek and Fish Creek Trail.
3.6 Tornado damage.
4.4 Old cattle camp.
5.5 Confluence of Fish Creek and Black River.

USGS Maps: Hoodoo

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.

Permit $$
no fees or permits reported

if incorrect tell us about it

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
Author writes: From Show Low, take Highway 60 to Springerville, then Highway 191 to Alpine. From the intersection in Alpine with Highway 180, continue south 14 miles to FR 26. Turn right (west) onto FR 26 and proceed 10 miles to the intersection with FR 24. Turn south (left) onto FR 24 and go 1.5 miles to the fork at Bear Creek. Take the right fork, which is FR 83, about 3 miles, then turn right onto FR 83A. After 1.4 miles, at a sign giving directions to the trail, turn left onto an unmaintained dirt doubletrack, pass a corral, and continue about .5 mile to the trailhead.

07/04/07 Author Update - Trailhead access has changed since we last visited Fish Creek, and the changes are not reported at the Apache National Forest web site. At the lower (northern) end, FR 83 no longer exists; instead, if coming from Buffalo Crossing on FR 24 or from Highway 191 on FR 26, proceed 4.4 south on FR 24 from the intersection with FR 26, then turn west (right) on FR 24U. Stay with it until you reach the sign announcing the trailhead. To that point roads are good; after that, for the last half mile, high clearance is a good idea. The southern trailhead now is beside the store at Hannagan Meadow.

Forest Service: From Buffalo Crossing follow Forest Road 24 to Forest Road 83. Turn west here and follow FR83 about 3 miles to FR 83A. Or follow FR 24 from Hannagan Meadow to FR 83 and turn west. From either direction it's around 3 miles to FR83A which turns right about 1.4 miles to a lesser dirt road which then forks left. Follow this road about 0.5 miles past an old corral to the trailhead of the Fish Creek Access Trail #320. From here it's 0.6 miles to Fish Creek.

Another access alternative is to hike down Fish Creek from the point where FRO 24 crosses it 1.5 miles west of Hannagan Meadow to its intersection with the Fish Creek Access Trail 6.2 miles downstream.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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