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A moderate/strenuous hike with gorgeous tree-filled landscapes leading to a beautiful waterfall.

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Out and Back

5,688' 1,734 m


4,284' 1,306 m


1,426' 435 m


1,426' 435 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Cave · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall

Family Friendly WARNING: Only bring your children if they are used to strenuous outings. It is a long upward hike back to the parking area. Overall, it is a great trail, clean environment, and lots of fun in the water


This hike features a beautiful trail, is DSLR camera friendly, and has lots of fun and excitement at the waterfalls. Be warned that it's a grueling return trip, and you must bring an appropriate amount of water and food.

Need to Know

Bring ~ 1-1.5 gallons of water PER PERSON, and enough food and snacks to last a full day. Appropriate footwear, water shoes, goggles / snorkeling gear (optional), and sunscreen are also recommended.

You must purchase parking permit in advance from www.recreation.gov. Permits are required from May 1 through October 1.


The backdrop is gorgeous with red rocks interspersed with trees, and one can see the open Arizona sky at its best. The new permit system has significantly contributed to crowd control on this trail, and the overpopulation of previous years is no longer an issue (we ran into 3-4 groups of 5-10 people), and the trail itself was overall very clean.

Be careful not to miss the sign for "Fossil Springs Trailhead" as the road will also continue towards the Old Fossil Creek Road, which is no longer in use.

The trail is well marked right up to the point where the trail splits between "Fossil Springs" and the "Toilet Bowl/Dam." The "Fossil Spring" road will take you to a small spring where you can splash water on your face and the side trip is extremely short. From there, you can jump over the small creek and continue on or backtrack to the split in the road for the "Toilet Bowl/Dam." There was a segment of this trail that can be slightly confusing; there will be an opening in the trail (right after you see a sign explaining the rules about hiking Fossil Creek), and you'll seemingly have a couple paths to choose from. The correct path is along some tall grass/reeds and will have another trail marker once you go a little bit in.

The waterfall area itself is just gorgeous. There is a small cave to explore and sit and relax in. There is a pocketed wall to do some minor rock climbing on outside the cave (though the rock is very harsh on the skin) and the toilet bowl formation is tons of fun itself. People can jump inside the toilet bowl and exit the formation by swimming through a small hole underneath the water, however I highly recommend wearing goggles so you can see where you are going, otherwise do not jump in the bowl. You can also explore the small underhang beneath the waterfall.

Pace yourself for the trip back, as the ascent can be difficult for beginners and tiring for experienced hikers. Our group had 3 liters of water and 1 gatorade per person, and we finished nearly all of it by the end of the outing. Protein bars with high calories and juicy fruits (for hydration) are highly recommended.


Shared By:

Hossein Abbaszadegan

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 15 votes


  4.8 from 15 votes
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in Arizona


38 Views Last Month
6,770 Since Aug 22, 2016
Difficult Difficult



Small cave near the toilet bowl. Bring goggles to view the floor of the cave + the fish.
Aug 24, 2016 near Pine, AZ
Cliff jumpers take advantage of the scenery for excellent action shots (we saw one person jump from the top of the waterfall)
Aug 24, 2016 near Pine, AZ
The falls.
Jul 12, 2016 near Pine, AZ
Panoramic view of the waterfall and toilet bowl.
Aug 24, 2016 near Pine, AZ
Today was a special hike to Fossil Springs Waterfall. We enjoyed a cattle drive! Drive toward Cottonwood on Hwy 260 then turning off onto Forest Road 708 and drive back toward Strawberry for 14 miles to the trailhead.
Aug 7, 2019 near Pine, AZ
Sunset over Fossil Creek Canyon.
Aug 25, 2016 near Pine, AZ



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