Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Parsons Spring Day Hike
when Trip Report : October 11, 2014
  Trip Report : November 12, 2011
  Trip Report : May 5, 2001
  Trip Report : October 16, 1999
where Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area, north of Cottonwood/Clarkdale
the hike     This cool and refreshing riparian hike along Sycamore Creek in the lower end of Sycamore Canyon features a wide variety of trees (including massive, towering sycamores and cottonwoods), abundant bird life, deep inviting pools, and fascinating geology. The trail quickly drops for 200 feet into the canyon and, sheltered by high walls of Devonian period limestone, continues upstream for almost four miles to Parsons Spring, a wide marshy area. The abundance of running water and plentiful shade from large sycamore and cottonwood trees makes this a great hike during late spring and early summer months. The cooler temperatures of November should put us close to peak fall color season in the canyon.
    The red rock walls rise higher and become steeper, as we hike deeper into Sycamore Canyon, but the trail remains fairly level as it runs parallel to Sycamore Creek, which usually flows year-round. Parsons Spring Trail was rebuilt about ten years ago, after being completely washed out in several places by previous flash floods. Subsequent flash floods have since created a few new obstacles like large log jams to navigate around.
    The trail crosses Sycamore Creek a number of times before reaching the springs. Most are easy crossings, but a few will require some boulder-hopping and some may be hard to find if the rock cairns have been washed away and not yet replaced. The water level in the creek should be low this time of year, but if there have been recent rains in the canyon, crossings will be more difficult and we may get wet. We will stop somewhere near the Parsons Spring area for a lunch and rest break before returning along the same route.
    Parsons Trail is featured as Hike of the Month in Arizona Highways, vol.87 #9, September, 2011, page 54.
•  Sturdy hiking boots
•  At least 3 liters of water
•  Rain poncho
•  Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
•  Lunch or snacks
•  Camera
distance 7.4 miles round trip
time 4-5 hours
EC +-1000' elevation change
elevations 3598' (Sycamore Creek) to 3830' (across from Packard Mesa)
starting at
Parsons Spring Trailhead 34° 51.837' N,  112° 4.168' W  [NAD27]
on trail 100% — Parsons Trail #144
rating "C"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs? no
cost Sharing gas expenses with the driver.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Clarkdale
meet 7:00 AM in the Fry’s parking lot on the SW corner of I-17 & Bell Road. Park behind Denny’s, near the entrance to the Deer Valley Park & Ride.
drive     Drive north on I-17 toward Flagstaff. Take the Camp Verde Exit (#287) and head northwest on AZ260 for about 12 miles to Cottonwood. From Cottonwood, take 89A northwest for about four miles toward Clarkdale to the Tuzigoot National Monument turnoff on your right. Turn right onto Tuzigoot Road and follow it over the Verde River Bridge. Take the first left past the bridge (Sycamore Canyon Road) and continue driving along the east bank of the Verde River for four miles. At this point the road becomes Forest Road 131. Follow FR 131 for another 6.5 miles to the Parsons Spring Trailhead.
    PLEASE NOTE: High-clearance vehicles are required for the 10.5-mile stretch of road from the bridge to the trailhead since this road is graded only infrequently and can become extremely rutted at times, especially after heavy rains.

Schedule of Events Arizona Trailblazers Home Page

updated July 24, 2016 © Copyright 2016, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.