North Central Arizona

Fossil Springs Trail to Fossil Springs Creek and Waterfall

Fossil Springs Trail

At the trailhead for Fossil Springs Trail, near Strawberry, AZ, there are ample signs that this hike is not for the faint of heart. Although dogs are allowed on a leash, the trail is not recommended for small children or animals. The hike is challenging, but the reward is glorious. Nearly 10 miles round trip (considering you go all the way to the falls), with a 1,633 elevation gain, it’s a fabulous day trip. On the way down, the hike is very pleasant and manageable, but on the way back it is more difficult. You’ll want to bring plenty of water and snacks and be prepared for a long adventure. When I went, we did witness an unprepared hiker have to be carried out on a horse by park rangers. Don’t let this be you.

I live by my Osprey Pack. I’ll be honest, I don’t hydrate nearly enough on the daily, but I practically emptied my whole reservoir by the end of this hike. They’re a little on the pricey side, but I’ve had mine for three years now and have never had any quality issues with it. I take it on every camping, hiking, and kayaking trip that I go on.


Fossil Springs Creek Waterfall

The best part of the hike is when you finally reach Fossil Springs Creek. If you continue along the creek, when you get to the bottom, you will be greeted by a waterfall and ample swimming holes. We spent a few hours just relaxing and swimming around. The break was very welcome. The water is a nice relief from the Arizona temperatures, and especially when we went in early May, the cool down was needed. For those taking this trek for the first time, it has been noted that there will be signs that you’re not on the right trail for the waterfall. Ignore these, because you are, this is just a long trial there.

Since I last went, regulations on the number of visitors allowed at Fossil Springs has been updated and changing, and you now need a permit to park at the Trailhead (Lot 9) or any of the surrounding lots from April 1 through October 1. I always recommend looking at the official park info before venturing out. For anyone not up for this whole hike, there are parking areas that are much closer to the falls and require less of a hike.

Get Directions to Fossil Springs Trailhead

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