Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trail-No. 18

Area Status: Open
This area is Open



This strenuous trail on the Tonto National Forest descends four miles into a 1600' deep canyon before you'll see a drop of water. Unlike the other eight parking lots in Fossil Creek, the Bob Bear Trailhead parking lot DOES NOT provide direct access to Fossil Creek's water! Loose rock and the steep ascent makes the return climb out challenging. No water is available along the first four miles of trail. In summertime, the hike out can be brutally hot. The trail ends at the historic old dam.

Do NOT attempt this trail without sturdy footwear (flip flops have proved disastrous for more than a few hikers), sun screen, and enough food and water to last the whole day.

View photos of Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trail and Fossil Springs & Dam on Flickr.


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Permits Required April 1 to October 1

Note: Permits for the Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trailhead must now be reserved through a separate reservation system.

Reserve a permit at for any of the parking areas in the Fossil Creek area. During the Spring-Summer Season, the Fossil Creek and Bob Bear area is day-use only. Camping, campfires, and glass containers are prohibited. See Fossil Creek Reservation System Information for videos, news, and more! See this brochure explaining the regulations for Fossil Creek Visitation.


For current conditions, call the Fossil Creek Information Hotline at 928-226-4611


At a Glance

Current Conditions: Fossil Creek Road Partial Closure: Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) is closed between Fossil Springs Trailhead (just west of Strawberry, AZ) and the Waterfall Trailhead (east of Fossil Creek Bridge) indefinitely. See the Fossil Creek Map, Guide, and Rules and the Fossil Creek Road Closure Forest Order for information. Access this trail from Strawberry, Arizona. Fossil Creek cannot be accessed by car via this route.
Operational Hours:
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Day use only! Camping is prohibited during the season. Parking lot is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The access gate closes at 4 p.m. daily; however, you may still exit the parking lot after 4 p.m.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): Gates are open 24 hours unless there is closure due to hazardous conditions.
Reservations: Make parking permit reservations on Reservations are only required during the Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1).
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities,Parking
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): $6 per vehicle per day. Permits are not issued on-site. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance on
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No fees, permits, or reservations are required.
Permit Info:
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Parking permit required for parking in the Fossil Creek area. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance through Visitors must bring printed permits and passes to the site. Permits cannot be issued on-site.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No fees or permits required.
Open Season: Year-round
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: Summer and weekends
Restrictions: Camping:
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Camping is prohibited anywhere in the permit area.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): Camping is prohibited between Fossil Creek Bridge and Fossil Creek Dam.
Campfires and Glass Containers: Campfires and glass containers are prohibited between Ike's Saddle and the head of Fossil Creek. See the Spring-Summer Guide, Fall-Winter Guide and Forest Orders for information. Clear Creek Campground and Childs Dispersed Camping Area are recommended area camping sites.
Closest Towns: Strawberry, Ariz. (10 miles), Camp Verde, Ariz. (60 miles via state Route 260)
Water: Bring at least 1 gallon each hiker
Restroom: Vault Toilet at Bob Bear TH
Operated By: Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611; Red Rock Ranger District 928-203-2900
Information Center: Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611

General Information



  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Permit is required for parking. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance. Visitors must bring printed permits and passes to the site. Permits can NOT be purchased on-site. See Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Fossil Creek reservations.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No passes or permits are required.
  • Horse Trailer Parking: There are three designated parking spots for vehicles towing a horse trailer at Bob Bear Trailhead parking lot. The vehicle and horse trailer maximum length is 50 feet. If you need a parking spot for a horse trailer be sure to make a specific reservation for one of these three equestrian-only parking spaces. 


Location: Five miles west of Strawberry, Ariz. This trail does NOT access the waterfall! Access the waterfall is a 60 mile trip to the creek-side access via state Route 260 out of Camp Verde. The waterfall is a 20-mile round trip hike through the desert from this trailhead.

GPS (Map): 34°24'24.3"N 111°34'06.4"W

Access: From Stawberry, AZ, take Forest Road 708 to the turnoff to the trailhead. The trailhead will be on your right. NOTE: FR 708 is closed just beyond the turnoff to the trailhead! you can NOT reach the eight Fossil Creek parking lots from this location. Between April 1 and Oct. 1 a parking permit is required to park at this trailhead.

Download seasonal recreation guides for Fossil Creek and Fossil Springs Wilderness

Fossil Creek Summer Map and Guide

Spring-Summer Guide
April 1 - October 1
(PDF, 1.7 MB)

Fossil Creek Fall-Winter Map and Guide

Fall-Winter Guide
October 2 - March 31
(PDF, 1.6 MB)


Mapas y guías de área de permisos de Fossil Creek (Español)

Mapa y guía de área de permisos de Fossil Creek en primavera y verano

Guía para la primavera y el verano
1 de abril - 1 de octubre
(PDF, 220 kB)

Mapa y guía de área de permisos de Fossil Creek en otoño e invierno

Guía para el otoño e invierno
2 de octubre - 31 de marzo
(PDF, 250 kB)


General Notes:

Attractions: Trails for hiking and horseback riding, unique rock formations, great scenery, wildlife viewing, and lush riparian area.

Hiking Time: 4 - 6 hours (round trip), this does NOT count the time spent at the creek or in the water.

Rating: Strenuous, 1500' elevation change over four miles between the trailhead and the springs. Hot with little shade in the warmer months. Wear appropriate footwear (e.g., hiking boots) and carry at least a gallon of water per person.


  • No motorized vehicles or mechanical equipment, including mountain bikes and remote controlled aircraft.
  • Spring water is not suitable for drinking.
  • This is a very hot hike in summer. Carry at least one gallon of drinking water per person.
  • Carry all waste material out with you. "Pack it in and Pack it out."

Related Links:


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Parking 30 22' parking spaces, plus 3 horse trailer spaces. Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Printed, reserved parking permit required and NOT available on site. Parking permits not required in Fall-Winter Season.
Fee charged for some activities Spring-Summer Season (April 1 October 1): $10 pre-purchased parking permit required. No fees in Fall-Winter Season.
Areas & Activities

Featured Events


  Area/Length : 
3.1 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4303 at springs - 5689 at trailhead