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    Bob Bear Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    13.4 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    459 m
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    Directions to Trailhead
    Bob Bear Trail

    Bob Bear Trail (formerly known as Fossil Springs Trail, not to be confused with Fossil Creek) is one of the most popular day hikes in the Tonto National Forest. This trail leads you along a canyonside route with amazing views of the Verde Valley, down through a treed-in trek, and to Fossil Springs. These springs flow over a short waterfall into a swimming hole. It’s a beautiful site that’s ideal on hot, sunny days.

    While this is a must-do hike, we don’t recommend bringing dogs or children. This route is very exposed to the hot sun and it is somewhat strenuous. Dehydration and heat stroke are risks on this hike. Bring plenty of water! Additionally, this is a permit-only site. You’ll need to purchase your permit ahead of time; there are no permits given at the site.

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    Route Description for Bob Bear Trail

    Bob Bear Trail is one of our favorite hikes in the Tonto National Forest, especially when we’re in the mood for a swimming hole. This route offers incredible scenery and the chance to cool off in a natural spring at the halfway mark. Add this adventure to your list!

    Note that the Bob Bear Trail was formerly known as the Fossil Springs Trail. Don’t confuse this with the Fossil Creek Trail near Camp Verde.

    This hike has gotten so popular in recent years that a permit system was put in place to control crowd levels. You can apply for a permit on the first of the month a month before your desired hiking date on the official website. For example, if you plan to hike in April, you can apply for a permit on March 1st. Permits will sell out, so plan ahead and reserve yours as early as you can.

    There are no permits issued on-site and you can’t access the parking lot without a permit. You’re guaranteed a parking space with your permit. Permits aren’t required between October 2nd and March 31st.

    This hike is out in the sun for a long stretch and this area experiences extreme heat. We don’t recommend hiking this trail between June and August. No matter which month you visit in, bring at least a gallon of water per person. Because of the heat and the challenges of the trail, we recommend thinking twice before bringing dogs or children.

    From the parking lot, you’ll head down the side of the canyon. The views of the Verde Valley here are truly stunning. You’ll spend your trip out descending to the valley floor, which means it’s your return trip that gets tiring.

    Watch your footing on the loose rock on the canyon trail. You’ll be glad you wore sturdy footwear! There’s a pretty viewpoint around 1,550 m that looks over the valley below.

    Make your way down to the floor of the valley, trekking through vines and trees as you approach the water. Before reaching the creek, you’ll turn left. Cross Fossil Creek and arrive at Fossil Springs.

    A few steps past Fossil Springs is the Toilet Bowl, a unique whirlpool. While it might look tempting to jump in, respect the signage that very clearly asks you not to do this. There is a significant risk of drowning in the whirlpool.

    You certainly can jump in at the springs, though! While you swim, check out the left side of the main waterfall. There’s a cave here that’s fun to explore (kids shouldn’t try to swim to the cave as the current is strong near the entrance).

    When you’re ready, it’s time to climb up the canyon wall and return to the trailhead.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Fossil Springs

    The Fossil Springs on Fossil Creek is a popular site for hikers and swimmers. These picturesque springs host several waterfalls, a grotto cave, and a whirlpool. The creek allows a lush array of vegetation to flourish beside the water making this canyon-bottom destination feel a world away from the dry desert that surrounds it.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do you need a pass for Fossil Springs?

    Yes. Make sure you reserve your permit on on the first of the month prior to when you plan to visit. You can’t visit the springs without a pre-purchased permit.

    Is Fossil Springs kid-friendly?

    Older children should be able to complete this hike. It’s a strenuous trail with climbing required, and it can be very hot. We recommend leaving smaller children and dogs at home.

    What month is best for Fossil Springs?

    We like to visit the springs in May or September when the weather it’s quite as hot as in the summer months.

    Insider Hints for Bob Bear Trail

    • There are a few backcountry campsites on this trail.
    • If you do bring a dog, bring water for them. There is no water on the first four miles of this route.
    • As always when hiking in Arizona, avoid water hikes during a monsoon. There is a risk of flash flooding on this trail.

    Getting to the Bob Bear Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Bob Bear Trail is on FR 784 off FR 708.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Various backcountry

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Bob Bear Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Bob Bear Trail Reviews

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