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Hiking Fossil Springs in the Off Season

Carson is here with another fun guest post for you today! He and his brother recently hiked Fossil Springs together, and we all thought it would be great for him to share his experience!


I'm a little embarassed to admit that after 7 years in Strawberry, I've never done this incredible hike to see the waterfall! It's been on my list for longer than we've owned the Inn, but I've honestly been a little intimidated because I'd always heard what a tough hike it is. I stay pretty active, and I feel confident now saying that if you're in decent shape, you can do this hike too! If climbing Camelback Mountain followed by Piestewa Peak sounds like your idea of a good time, this is the Rim Country hike for you!

My brother and I hiked together while he was in town visiting. It was really great having a hiking partner for the long trek! It's a total of 9 miles out and back. Because we hiked during off season, we didn't need a permit. Permits are required from April 1-October 1. Another perk of hiking during the off-season is that there weren't many other people on the trail with us. We probably saw a total of a dozen other people the entire day.

There were so many highlights on this hike. The wildlife we saw was really cool. There were three deer just off the trail at one point. All along the trail going up and down, there are fantastic lookouts with amazing viewpoints of the lower elevation areas. As you near the bottom, there is a split in the trail. Follow the sign towards the dam.

Once we got close to the waterfall, hearing and smelling the fresh water was a really surreal experience. Pictures don't even do justice to how beautiful the water is! It's crystal clear and stays warm year-round. The water was actually warmer than the air on the day we went. We even saw someone snorkeling who said he could see lots of fish underwater. We didn't bring any goggles, but I'd suggest packing a pair if you want to have a look underwater for yourself.

After spending a good amount of time relaxing in the water, we began the hike back out. I'm not going to lie -- it was tough! The first half of climbing out is extra hard, but then it gets a bit easier.

Below are some tips for having a successful hike. Some of these are things that were helpful for me, while others are things I wish I had done.

  1. Make sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back. With no permits required this time of year, the rangers don't know who is down there. I suggest spending some time looking at trail recordings for Bob Bear Trail on AllTrails to get an idea of how long you'll be gone. If you aren't back at a reasonable hour, advise your contact to call 911. They will dispatch Tonto Rim Search and Rescue and/or Pine-Strawberry Fire. Those crews have horses and quads they use to reach lost or injured hikers.

  2. I really should have brought more snacks! My brother and I were absolutely famished by the time we finished the 9 mile trek. In the future, I'll plan to bring a few protein bars, nuts, fruit, electrolytes, and maybe a few more options!

  3. Plan for a gallon of water. Even though it adds weight to your pack, it's much better to have too much water than not enough.

  4. Be aware of the altitude and research symptoms of altitude sickness. Pay attention to your body and call it quits if need be.

  5. Wear proper shoes!! I recommend a pair of quality hiking boots or trail running shoes. Rim Country Runners in Payson is a great local small business if you're in the market for a new pair.

  6. There is absolutely no cell service. If you want someone to be able to track your location, purchase a tracking device that doesn't rely on a cell signal.

  7. Trekking poles would have been helpful

  8. If you plan on getting into the water, bring a towel and a change of clothes.

Experts say you should feel confident hiking 10 miles when you attempt this hike. All in all, I'm really glad I finally had the chance to do this amazing trail. My brother and I had a great time, and the experience was unforgettable.

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