White Mountains Online

Fish Creek Access Trail #320
& Fish Creek Trail #60


Elevation: 8,400' to 6,800'

Length: 5.5 mile

Season: May through October

USGS Maps: Hoodoo

Rating: Moderate

Use: Moderate

Attractions: Fish Creek Access Trail drops into the narrow forested canyon from a high bench that overlooks both the Black River and Fish Creek drainages. Once on the floor of the canyon it wanders downstream along Fish Creek past pools, riffles, and stepping-stone stream crossings to the point where this tributary and the Black River join. Along the way it passes an area where what is reported to have been a tornado left its mark on the forest. Dozens of downed trees make the point that nature can bring change to the forest in a number of ways.

Travelers along this trail should know that they have the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club to thank for the considerable sections of it that are in good to excellent shape. Although the Fish Creek Access Trail has been used by the Forest Service for over 50 years for moving fire fighters and other personnel through the backcountry, it fell into disrepair after 1970 when maintenance was discontinued for lack of funds and interest. At that point the task of keeping the trail open was left to ranchers who continued to use it to move cattle between Fish Bench and the Fish Creek drainage. The trail stayed open but became quite rough in a number of places. During the summers of 1990 and 1991 three volunteer work groups, consisting of two Sierra Club and one American Hiking Society trips, were successful in restoring and reconstruction the entire 5.5 miles from Fish Creek Access Trail to the Black River.

Trout anglers will be interested to know that Fish Creek harbors a pure population of Arizona’s state fish, the Apache trout. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has installed a barrier across the creek to keep introduced rainbow trout from swimming upstream from the Black River and hybridizing with the population of threatened natives. The native trout in Fish Creek are not large. They average about 8". Larger rainbows are available in the Black River. But even if your biggest catch here is the scenery or an afternoon of streamside relaxing you'll find this pleasant path an excellent place to enjoy a day trip or an overnight hike.

Access: From Buffalo Crossing follow FR 24 to FR 83. Turn west here and follow FR 83 about 3 miles to FR 83A. Or Follow FR 24 from Hannagan Meadow to FR 83 and turn west. From either direction it is around 3 miles to FR 83A which turns right about 1.4 miles to a lesser dirt road, which then forks left. Follow this road about 0. 5 miles past an old corral to the trailhead of the Fish Creek Access Trail #320 from here it's 0.6 miles to Fish Creek.

Another access alternative is to hike down Fish Creek from the point where FR 24 crosses it 1.5 miles west of Hannagan Meadow to its intersection with the Fish Creek Access Trail 6.2 miles downstream.

Trail Log:

  • 0.0 From trailhead posterboard follow trail across a flat rocky area to where it drops down a rocky point into the canyon.
  • 0.6 Junction with Fish Creek and Fish Creek Trail.
  • 3.6 Tornado damage.
  • 4.4 Old cattle camp.
  • 5.5 Confluence of Fish Creek and Black River.

For current information on trail conditions, please contact the Alpine Ranger District: P.O. Box 469, Alpine, AZ 85920, (520) 339-4384

For more information, please feel free to contact the USDA Forest Service, Alpine Ranger District at 928.339.4384 or you may write us at P.O. Box 469 Alpine, Arizona 85920