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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.

Flume Trail, AZ

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Guide 55 Triplogs  8 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
3.5 of 5 by 22
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,860 feet
Elevation Gain 590 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,180 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2019-03-23 Daytripper
4  2018-05-26
Go John via Apache Wash TH
4  2018-04-08 Eartheist
12  2018-03-17
Fossil Springs Loop
35  2016-04-05
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
11  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
14  2015-06-22
Fossil Springs Loop
12  2015-06-04
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,262 map ( 21,474 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:15am - 6:22pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Only in Arizona
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
The flume has been removed. The following description remains for historical viewing.

April 1st to Oct 1st. Info in directions.

Three trails access Fossil Springs. The Mail Trail heads down three miles from the General Crook Trail. The Fossil Springs Trail is a four mile venture from FR708. Described here is the Flume Trail. This historic flume built back in 1916 channels water to the Irving Power Plant and further on down to the Childs Power Plant. Nearly 85% of this route follows a service road, so wilderness die-hards need not apply.

The drive to the trailhead from either Camp Verde or Strawberry is very scenic. Though seemingly remote, this area sees lots of visitors. Which in turn translates into lots of litter. Do your part and keep the place clean. I'm sure the boy scouts are sick of picking up trash. Which reminds me... In 1998 I was following Fossil Creek up stream here when I came across two boy scouts. They obviously weren't practicing an honored scout activity when I surprised them. In fact I've had several odd encounters within ten miles of here in the past. Anyhow... the mineralized creek has some cool little areas worthy of exploring.

Flume Trail
From the trailhead follow the trail left of the trailhead signage. Fossil Creek is reached immediately. According to "Sedona Hikes" it's a tough task crossing the creek. My experience thus far on numerous trips has been an easy skip and jump across some rocks. I'm sure after a rain or during spring runoff the conditions could be severe.

The trail immediately zips up the other side of the creek. The Mountaineers "100 Hikes in Arizona" suggest scrambling up the dried up mineral deposit cascade if you can't find the trail. Heck, the trail is a few yards away to the left and much easier. I mention this only because years ago I took this option and it was hell. Next you pass through a gate. This all happens real quick so if you have been hiking for over ten minutes you're definitely in the wrong area. Okay... As long as you're on track it's a no brainer here on. It's a steep 360 foot ascent to the service road which follows the historic flume. The only possible trail direction question comes near a pipe in the ground where the trail forks. Take the left fork.

Once on the service road go right. Just before topping out on the service road is a trail register. The flume isn't in view just yet. Look at this photo again, you can see a little building on the hill. Coming down from the building area is what I believe to be the same dried up mineral cascade as below. Only there's a trickle up here. Here's my theory... (e-mail me with corrections as needed) The flume some how converts the water into a pipe near the little building. The overspray or runoff shoots down the cascade. The pipe heads straight down underground and across the slope to the Irving Power Plant below. The pipe back near the fork is some sort of check point or tester, cause I've never seen a wilderness fire hydrant.

Coming around the first corner of the road you get a glimpse of the flume high above. Check out the sweeping views up and down the canyon. Before you know it the flume is beside you. Signs remind you to keep off the flume anywhere access is possible. There's really no need to be climbing on it anyhow. The trail goes directly over it in a short distance. Here you can peek inside and see the running water. I was amazed how quickly it moves so quietly. Fossil Springs further down the trail pumps out 275 gallons of water per second. The water is mineralized and a constant 72 degrees. I have yet to hike all the way to the springs in several trips. Somehow I always forget this area until summer. This trip I turned around at about 1.5 miles before the heat seemed a nuisance. There are some cool views of the flume even in the short distance I went.

This might be a good March or November date hike. It's a nice scenic drive all the way from Phoenix. You have the mini adventure across the creek and up the hill to the flume road. Followed by some ooohs and aaahs checking out the flume. Then you have six miles out and back of easy scenic strolling perfect for chattin'. Keep in mind you'd both need to be somewhat into hiking. Cause 7.4 miles can be brutal on a beginner, especially without shade.

Camping Regulations
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2001-06-04 joebartels
  • Fossil Permit Area
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    Fossil Permit Area
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Tonto FS Details
The Flume Trail on Fossil Creek starts at the old Arizona Public Service Irving Power Plant location and follows the line of the since-removed flume that carried the water from the dam to the power plants for generating electricity. The trail follows the old APS flume access road along the canyon hillside and ends at the old dam, a five mile trek one way. The trailhead is located on Forest Road 708 just north-east of the Fossil Creek Bridge. It shares a parking lot with the Irving swimming hole. Visitors must cross the creek at the low water crossing and follow the path through the old residential 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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Flume Trail
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I am really liking the new pass program to access FC. There were no crowds and a lot less trash. The warmth of the day helped cut the coldness of the water. Other than the nibbling fish, very relaxing. Saw a crew severely under prepared about a mile in on the flume trail. I hope they turned around. Will be making a trip out here again this season with the kids.

We saw two away from the water. Very dry season outside of the canyon.
Flume Trail
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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 ]

Flume Trail
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Fossil Springs Loop
i've hiked down to fossil creek twice before the dam was decommissioned, once in 2006 and once before 1998
been wanting to go back, and john hadn't been here at all
he even took a monday off so we could avoid some of the crowds
arrived at the trailhead early enough that only three or four cars were in the parking lot
didn't see anyone on the way down, until near the creek when we ran into a couple of backpackers hiking out
noticable amount of smoke in the canyon from the horse tank fire north of strawberry
crossed the creek bed and went past the camping area to the old dam site
took a dip there, sharing the place with just five younger guys
nice place for a swim and the water felt great
i wanted to see the waterfall on the other end, so we hiked down the flume trail for a few miles
dropped down off trail to the waterfall trail, and backtracked to the waterfall
went for another swim as we crossed the creek, then went up to the waterfall
started seeing more and more people, along with a corresponding amount of garbage
the waterfall was nice, and i'm glad we went there, but way too many people to enjoy it
went back to another pool for a snack and one last swim
hiked out forest road 708, which is now closed to vehicle traffic
essentially followed the loop bruce and joe did last april, but from the top
such a beautiful area, and i enjoyed seeing more of it
but the amount of water bottles, toilet paper, food scraps, wrappers and general garbage is disgusting
it's a shame that some of the visitors treat the wilderness as one big dumpster
on a monday, john counted about 60 people at the waterfall, with numbers rising to well over 100 as we hiked toward the road
while the warm temps make swimming fun, i wouldn't do this hike when school is out
i liked the dam area better, but by the time we got back to my truck, the lot was full and the dam was probably just as crowded
another time i would explore more of the creek, rather than hiking above it
a good time in spite of the garbage rant
good company, too - thanks john
hit that brewery on the way home, and then dq in payson
made it back just in time for the women's world cup soccer game
Flume Trail
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Fossil Springs Loop
This is one of about five that have been on my list forever....

Finally talked señor José into visiting the crystal clear cool blue green waters of Fossil Creek.
The Flume Trail was also on the list and made a convenient loop.

We were the second car in the Waterfall Trail TH at about 8am. Hiking CCW, we climbed the 5+ mile closed to vehicle portion of Fossil Creek Rd. This get's the majority of the elevation out of the way easily on the road. Some great views of the Fossil Creek area from up on this road.

At around 10am we made the Fossil Springs TH and about 30 cars. I was not expecting solitude on this hike, just Blue Green Waters. For the amount of cars, the trail was not crowded at all.

Lush and green at the bottom opened up to more and more water. Just prior to seeing our first spring, Joe walked overtop of a 4' Gopher Snake. Now the famous waters kicked in.

Underwater GoPro

We made our way to the old Dam area. It was interesting to find out that before it was decommissioned and ripped out, the Dam was 14' taller. Joe pointed out the Toilet Bowl as we crossed over the creek to the Flume trail.

Dam Area

You had to look pretty close to see the remnants of the old Flume. The pathway was visible in spots, as well as some of the footings and hardware. I really enjoyed the views of the creek from the Flume Trail.

The track I'd drawn up jumped off the Flume and made it's way for the Waterfall on the Waterfall Trail. Warning for those that may follow the posted track, the last drop to the creek is steep and loose, but offers different views of the natives jumping the 40' into the Blue Green pools below.

Lunch was on the creek next to a 15' diameter whirlpool. There were probably 30 or so people enjoying the waters and taking turns jumping to the waters below

Waterfall Backflip

The Waterfall Trail is jungle-like and well traveled

Back to the truck and parking lot that was one other car, was now full, as well as all the other lots and roadsides.

This is a special area that everyone has to experience. Weekdays, before school lets out for the summer, Recommended.
Flume Trail
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Fossil Springs Loop
Bruce has wanted to hike the area for some time. I kept brushing it aside since the historic flume is gone. Fossil Springs is one of the most popular hikes in the state. After a little self attitude adjustment it dawned on me most would get excited to visit Fossil so what the heck... bring it on!

Albeit an obvious loop and nothing over the top this is a wham duzzel of a loop! ( gps here )

Fossil Trail #18 was pretty much as I recall from 2005. While not shaded there are a lot of shade opportunities near the junipers anytime except high noon.

The Flume Trail was interesting to see how well they removed the flume. Nice views for a road walk. Still feels like it's hotter on that road than anywhere else. Junipers are good at creating that feeling. You see shade but rarely experience it first hand.

The Waterfall Trail is just a slice of heaven. This was my first trip and I'll be back. Bruce likes to do all the popular stuff like A.B. Young, West Fork and Waterfall... backwards. This is also interesting as I traveled the creek up decades ago.

just 54 seconds...
Flume Trail
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Down Fossil Springs #18 to the old diversion dam site, canyoneered downstream in the creek until picking up the Waterfall Trail (with the mandatory cliff jump), then returned up the Flume Trail.

In 2007 I got to tour the old Irving power plant site (see photos) just before it was removed as part of the creek restoration. I love Fossil Creek, but it hasn't really been restored to "wild and scenic" conditions, summertime weekends there are more like "wild and crazy".
Flume Trail
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This was a great hike and one of the most rewarding regardless of crowds. The aqua blue water is amazing.

We were first stopped on the turn in from Camp Verde by a ranger. He asked what we were doing and gave us a map. He advised the road was closed at the Flume trail head so we could not start from the fossil springs side. This was our alternate anyway. We were also advised of the exposure (the whole I hike I couldn't stop saying to myself "I have hiked the valley in August, I was born in exposure").

The dirt road is very bumpy and makes for slow going. It seems like normal old high desert all the way until you turn the bend to the bridge. The view from the bridge almost made me cry for two reasons. It was beautiful and there were piles of people. Luckily this was not our spot. We continued up to the trail head which again was packed with cars. There was enough room however that you could get away from everyone if you wanted. All the close spots however were packed with people. Maybe 50 - 100 people in all.

Just a note to wait and put your boots on. You need to cross the water right at the start off the parking lot and your feet will get wet.

After crossing the water the crowd faded quickly as the trail heads up the ridge. It is a pretty good push up to elevation but completely doable by even a novice. I can see how we were advised it was exposed but I would take this exposure over the 26 miles I did in Cave Creek only a few weeks earlier. There were plenty of shaded areas to take a break. I would do this hike in August with promise of water at the end. Looking at maps it looks there is water all year.

After what did not felt like very long we crossed through a fenced area and started our decent. After awhile we came to the Dam/Water fall. Again it was crowded. Far less people but not private by any means. The views were fantastic. I so wanted to get into the water but didn't want to be crowded. We poked around a bit and found one of the most beautiful swimming holes I have ever seen. Other than the slob who pooped in the corner it was perfect.

The water was cold at first but we quickly became acclimated. The fish were fearless and I could have just let them swim in my hand and grab them if I wanted. The water was nice and just shallow enough I could walk along the bottom. After about an hour of swimming and not seeing anyone we were getting ready to leave and two groups of people and two separate rangers stopped in. The rangers were making sure we weren't camping. Too bad I can't camp here but glad others can't :D .

The walk back was the same. Awesome views and a mostly great experience. I am however saddened by the level of disrespect for nature. The site near the parking lot was left a mess. I know this is not something people on this site would be doing but please, please do not destroy nature for others to appreciate. There are ways to have fun and explore without ruining it for everyone else.

Last note is that there was more traffic than expected on the drive out, people with big trucks like to pass on a one lane dirt road even when there are multiple vehicles in front of you and finally when someone is following on a dirt road these same trucks like to drive in such a way to create even more the hike was great :P

Scattered flowers but agave spikes everywhere.
Flume Trail
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The upper trailhead was closed due to fire hazard, so we decided to drive down to the Flume trailhead and give it a try. This would be a great way for someone to enjoy the springs without the elevation change of the upper trailhead. Fairly flat road with some scenic views of the flume and the canyon. The springs of course were great. I could spend all day swimming and exploring down there, maybe next time.
Flume Trail
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Nice Labor Day at Fossil Springs. Unlike what it has become, there were only a 5-6 other people down there, even on this big holiday. A nice day.

We shuttled a car to the bottom, so we hiked down #18, spent the day at the dam, and then hiked down the old flume road rather than hiking back up and out. Which is probably good considering the number of beers we drank all afternoon ;)

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 / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From Phoenix head north on I-17 exit on 287 and head east on SR 260. Pass through Camp Verde and continue on just past mile marker 228 to the somewhat signed turnoff to the right onto FR 708. Follow FR 708 13.7 beautiful but bumpy & sometimes scary miles to the junction with FR 502. Continue on the left fork and stay on FR 708 for 2.6 miles passing the Irving Power plant. A large parking area is on the left side of the road. It's a three hour drive from Phoenix.

From Strawberry Arizona.... Take FR708 just under ten miles to the parking area. FR708 takes off from the only real intersection in town. It passes some homes and the old school in the beginning... I think, it's been years... It's definitely not hard to figure out.
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