The trail to Fossil Springs follows a steep, dusty old jeep road two miles down past an old gravel pit. There is a lot of loose rock on this part of the trail making it easier to go down than the return climb out. The trail then turns south and goes a half-mile to the springs. From this trail you can discover the little Shangri La where you can swim, picnic, study fossils, or explore the waters of travertine pools along the creek.
The millions of gallons of 72ºF water that gush from the springs every hour have created a lush environment which supports over 30 types of trees and bushes and over 100 species of birds. The Canyon walls near the springs contain small fossils from an ancient sea that washed over the area 350 million years ago. The wood flume, built in 1916, used to supply water from the springs to the Irving and Childs Power Plants which relied on its water to turn their power generating turbines. Any further intrusions are now prohibited since the area became the 12,000-acre Fossil Springs Wilderness in 1984.
Restrictions, Warnings, and Important Notices
Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611
Partial Road Closure: Fossil Springs Road (FR 708) is closed between Fossil Springs Trailhead and the Waterfall Trailhead until further notice. See the Fossil Creek Map, Guide, and Rules and the Fossil Creek Road Closure Forest Order for information.
- From Strawberry, AZ: Use this route to access Fossil Springs Trail.
- From Camp Verde, AZ: Use this route for creek day use areas, Flume Trail, and Waterfall Trail access.
Campfires are strictly prohibited between Ike Saddle and the head of Fossil Creek. Camping is strictly prohibited between Fossil Creek Bridge and Fossil Creek Dam. See the Fossil Creek Map, Guide, and Rules and Special Restrictions Forest Order for information. Clear Creek Campground and Childs Dispersed Camping Area are recommended camping sites near Fossil Creek.
Warning: Fossil Creek Periodic Road Closures
Roads may be closed due to traffic problems caused by high visitor traffic and traffic congestion issues). See Safety Information: Health and Safety concerns warrant periodic Fossil Creek Road closures for more information. For an up-to-date information, call the Fossil Creek Hotline at 928-226-4611.
If you wish to visit Fossil Creek, we recommend arriving early in the morning (before 7AM), or planning your visit during late fall, winter, or early spring to avoid issues caused by high visitor traffic.
Fossil Creek and Fossil Springs Wilderness:
At a Glance
||Strawberry, AZ (10 miles) Camp Verde, AZ (21 miles)
||Red Rock Ranger District - 928-203-2900
Location: Northwest of Payson
GPS (Map): 34°24'24.3"N 111°34'06.4"W
Access: From Stawberry, AZ, take FR 708 to end of road. The trailhead will be on your right.
Click map graphic for printable view.
trails for hiking and horseback riding
unique rock formations
lush riparian area
Hiking Time: 4 - 6 hours (round trip)
No motorized of mechanical equipment including trail bikes.
Spring water is not suitable for drinking.
This will be a very hot hike in summer. Carry plenty of water.
Carry all waste material out with you.
For more information contact:
Tonto National Forest, Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Hwy 260, Payson, AZ 85541, (928) 474-7900