Explore Payson - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Payson Map
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hiking
8 days ago

This is quite fun if you like hopping from one rock to the next, but it’s not the best trail if you are just looking for an easy stroll. I liked it! A bit hard to navigate and there are several paths you can take...but it’s hard to get lost with a GPS.

Great trail! The first couple of miles are somewhat generic, but once you make it down to the creek it’s really nice.
The trail gets confusing towards the end but keep going as the waterfall all the way at the end makes it worth the trek!

hiking
9 days ago

LOVED this trail. Lots of scrambling, bouldering, and rock hopping. We paused many times to observe the beautiful rock formations, caves, tree varieties, fall colours and explore each area. My wife had our 7mo daughter on her back and managed to navigate fairly easily. It has challenging sections that follows the rocky creek bed but is very doable. The massive cave with falling water at the end was spectacular- pictures do not do it justice- it’s epic.

It's one of the tuffer trails of fossil creek. Waterfalls are beautiful but not easily accessible. Be prepared for this one because the road is very rocky and it can hurt the legs.

Things to must have.
1. Good trekking shoes
2. Water
3. Power bars

backpacking
11 days ago

backpacking
13 days ago

Mild rock climbing to the most beautiful payout

hiking
23 days ago

Actually 9 miles including trail head. Don't do it if you aren't ready! Waterfall is fabulous. I can't wait to do it again.

hiking
25 days ago

Great trail bring water. Not recommended for dogs or kids

Hike to the water isn’t bad- I’d recommend not going in hot summer months. (Don’t forget your parking permit.) hike up after swimming all day was brutal/ brings lots of water. Also may not be the best hike for a dog.

hiking
26 days ago

Fantastic hike!

Did the trail in October. Weather was great cold at the start but warmer near bottom. Some tricky spots and not for younger kids. The hike down was pretty easy but back out sucked the energy out of you. At the bottom the river was flowing and sound of water was relaxing

I have done Fossil Creek through Camp Verde but my kids and I were anxious to complete the hike through Strawberry. We could not have picked a better day for this hike on 8.25.18. We went with a group of 13, ages 8-45 and thankfully, everyone survived and had an amazing time. We were blessed with dark clouds the entire day though it never rained. The hike is definitely a workout but the views and waterfall at the end were absolutely worth it. Spent about 4 hours cliff jumping and swimming. Definitely bring food as you will want to sit and enjoy the scenery and the water. The hike out was a challenge for my 8 year old as it was very steep and it definitely got my heart rate up. If you have young kids, I would recommend the hike through Camp Verde and save this one for the older kids. Would absolutely do this hike again next summer!

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent trail! A fairly easy one to bring first-time backpackers on. I was surprised we had issues with coyotes in the area. They usually keep to themselves but there were three that were testing us the whole night, walking through our campsite and later in the early morning, we had one yelling outside our tent.

Your glutes and calves will burn!
but it's an amazing site to see 4 miles down. The Spring is fantastic to explore. Bring a hammock to hang & perhaps even a float!
Warning: our doggy suffered ripped paw pads and he's a malinois. We had to carry out a 70 pound dog in a backpack.

Completed the trek down in 1.5 hours.
Completed the trek back up (3/4 of trail is uphill) in 2 hours 15 min.
I think I'm slow compared to the guys i hike with, but we kept pace quite fast, passing some hikers on our way out.

Beautiful on the way down, strenuous hike on the way up. In actuality, it's a total of 10 miles round trip.
Here are some helpful tips:
- don't take your dog unless it's in good shape and you bring it booties for its paws. The trail is VERY rocky and tore up our little girls pads :( we also had to take a lot of breaks for her in the way up. If you do bring your dog, make sure you have a bowl, and plenty of water for cooling body temp and drinking.
-take enough water for the way down. I'd say 2 liters per person. When you get down to sign that says dam (right) springs (left) go right to the dam which will take you to the waterfall. On you're way out, go back toward the spring to fill up your water supply. YOU WILL NEED IT GOING UP. The water bubbles straight from the earth and is the best water I've tasted. It's not that far back... it's off to the right, you'll see it feeding into the springs from underground- very cool!
- start early! It'll take time coming up and you'll want to spend time swimming, etc. We hit the trail at 9am, got to the bottom around 1130 (we had dogs and kids), left at around 1pm and didn't reach the top until 4. But again, took several breaks to water our dogs, kids and selves.
- watch for Rattlesnakes! Stay to the middle of the trail when you can, and be aware. My friend almost got bit, but was able to jump outta the way. Beautiful 2 yr old rattler off to the side sunbathing, but could have been the end to a beautiful day.
- I cannot stress enough- water, water and more water, especially if bringing pets. They get thirsty and their body temps rise quickly. Ensure you keep you're pup alive if bringing. Our 5 yr old barely made it out. Might take her again, but with booties next time.
-kids do ok, they'll slow you down a bit, but as long as they have enough to drink they'll do great and absolutely LOVE swimming under the cave.
Water is cold, refreshing, and perfect in September. Best time of the year to go, in my opinion.
We'll be back!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike! You go down, down, down and more down to the waterfall which was hard on my hips. Also meant you will be going up, up, UP all the way back!! Like everyone else said bring LOTS of water and save most for the way out. I filled my hydro at the waterfall. The water is crystal clear, cold and moving quickly so its fine. I'm still alive after drinking! I wet a towel there and wrapped on my neck for the way back. That helped a lot. I wouldn't recommend kids or dogs going, but they could do it if in good condition. We left our kids and dog home and were very happy we did so. Its very very rocky so you have to be constantly looking down so you dont trip. The group I was with are all in very good shape. We gym several times a week and hike a lot and the next day we could hardly move! The way out seems like never ending and gets tough with all the rocks. Take your time. Get there early and bring lots of water and snacks. You won't regret it!
There is a ranger there checking permits, so make sure you have one and its for the correct lot.

I would do this again, but I would go during the winter.
The area was beautiful, though the the water was muddy brown.
There was a few cairns but not much of a trail. We were walking through some tall grass when I stopped to express my concern about snakes and not being able to see my feet. My buddy came up behind me and and suddenly yelled “snake”! A rattlesnake took off through and almost on top of the long grass less than 5 feet from where I had just walked a few seconds earlier. Very scary, and we quickly turned around and got back to where you could see the ground....

hiking
2 months ago

This hike was absolutely amazing. The reviews were a little daunting so I almost did not do this by myself, but I had no problems whatsoever. I'm in pretty good shape and did not find this difficult at all. BUT, that's completely relative to an individual's fitness. I would recommend getting there early (9am) because I had the whole waterfall/spring to myself for a few hours. Once it hit 12:30p.m. the crowd started showing up. I drank about 3L of water, but I stayed hydrated and ate well all week before coming. It's not just about the water you drink during the hike, it's also the prep the week before. Just be smart, come prepared, and enjoy yourself! This is definitely worth the 4-mile in and out.

TAKE NOTE: Easy in, strenuous out! The waterfall and pools at the end of the trail are absolutely breathtaking and perfect for swimming! Save your water for the hike out, it is long and ALL uphill, with loose rocks for the majority of the path. When you get to the sign at the bottom that says Spring left and Dam right, go right! Much shorter trek to waterfall. Like many others have forewarned bring LOTS of water and bring sunscreen/sunglasses/hat— the trail is mostly in direct sunlight. 200 people are rescued on this trail every year, so be smart and wear appropriate hiking footwear. I wore my bathing suit underneath my clothes and brought water shoes for the falls. A ranger is also at the trailhead to check permits, so make sure you get one ahead of time online!

hiking
2 months ago

Although this hike says moderate it is fairly easy. Fun for the whole family! We had our lunch inside the cave (pick up your trash) which was amazing. Beware the rocks are slippery!

Park ranger in the gift shop is RUDE! do not let him discourage you from this great hike.

good luck.

2 months ago

Although this hike is easy, take plenty of water. Beware rocks are slippery. So beautiful and calm.

Park ranger in the gift shop is rude but dont let him discourage you.

My first time hiking this trail...and LOVED it!! What I learned:
1) Trail is rocky, wear comfortable, supportive HIKING shoes, your feet will appreciate it. Take water shoes or sandals (Teva is my favorite) for when you’re ready to jump in the swimming holes
2) Have PLENTY of water to drink!! When you think you have enough, take some more. Other option is to fill your water bottle at the spring.
3) Watch our for critters...2 fellow hikers saw rattle snakes and 1 saw a tarantula...I got lucky and saw a deer.
4) The sun can be a bit brutal so make sure you have a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
5) Pace yourself on the way back up, take breaks in shady areas (when you can find one), the trail is exposed to the sun
6) Pack light snacks
7) DRINK WATER!!
8) Have fun!! Happy hiking!!

hiking
3 months ago

This trail is very nice and finished by a waterfall !! We took 3h to reach it. At the crossing roads between "Spring" and "Dam", the first one is a little bit longer and you have to cross the river just before the fall but the trail has more shadow and follow the river. Bring a lot of water (we have 3 liters per person), because the return climbs.

awsome views!!! lots of mud today!!!

hiking
3 months ago

We have 4 kids- 9, 7, 6, and 2. The bigger kids could do most of it all on their own. A few times we had to hold their hand but they loved it. There are a few cooler spots with small streams to play in. Beautiful scenery. The 2-year-old had to be held most of the time and passed between my wife and me, but we made it.

Great hike. Might be hard for young children.

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike with a beautiful "rain forest" in the desert.

hiking
3 months ago

I would not call this a hiking trail, more like boulder climbing all the way to the bridge. I hike three times a week and this is not moderate, I would give this a very hard rating. There was no enjoyment for me taking this route to the bridge. This may be enjoyable for some people, just be prepared if you decide to go here. Also, be very careful when you get to the bridge, very slippery and dangerous rocks. If you are going there to see the bridge I would recommend the Gowan trail, short and steep. It is very beautiful there, but I will not be going back.

Went 7/19/18- Left Phoenix at 6:30 am and arrived at 8:30. Perfect weather to get started! The walk down was a breeze, but we accidentally didn’t follow the fossil springs trail at the bottom (rookie mistake) so we added on an extra mile. Once we got on track we made it to the waterfall by following the sign for trails/the dam. Had the place all to ourselves! The water was cold but refreshing and crystal clear. We packed a sandwich to split, apples, and protein bars which we munched on in the 1.5 hours we stayed.
Now the hike up was no joke. Saving graces- Brought a hand towel to wipe our feet off before putting shoes back on and I soaked it in the water and it kept cold on my neck the whole walk. Found perfect walking sticks and I’m not sure I would have made it back without it to push me up. Refilled any and all water bottles in the spring.
It was 82 degrees climbing out, took us exactly two hours with stopping probably 20 times, and we went through 3 liters each of water the whole day. I’m not going to lie- definitely not for beginners, especially not in the heat! My boyfriend and I are both in decent shape and we each had our “I can’t go on” moments!

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