Bob Bear Trail Overview
This trail accesses Fossil Springs and a beautiful swimming area beneath the remnants of one of the first hydroelectric dams in Arizona. This area is also colloquially known as "The Toilet Bowl" due to a toilet bowl-esque shape carved into the soft travertine by the waterfall at the swimming hole. It should be noted that this is a relatively strenuous hike in and out of a canyon, pack plenty of snacks and water to have safe hiking and swimming experience in this magical oasis in Arizona.
From April 1 to October 1, vehicle parking at Fossil Creek is available only by advanced permit, available a month ahead of time via the Recreation.gov website. These permits can be difficult to obtain, so plan ahead to increase your chances of getting one.
We arrived at the trailhead at around 7AM as we were camping nearby. We realized after we arrived that technically the gate to the trailhead isn't supposed to be open until 8AM, but the gate was open and we didn't have any issues.
The hike down to the springs was delightful as the cool morning air and overcast sky made for perfect hiking weather.
We arrived at the bottom of the canyon at around 8:30 and had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes before other parties started to arrive. The cool water was so refreshing after the 4-mile hike down to the creek. The swimming hole by the dam filled up pretty quickly, but there was ample space in the swimming area below the dam. There's even an awesome cave to explore that the creek has carved into the travertine!
After swimming for a few hours, and having lunch by the creek, we began our hike out of the canyon and back to the car. If you go on this hike, it's important to consider when you leave the canyon because the afternoon heat can be absolutely BRUTAL in the summer. Also, having ample water for the hike out is a MUST. Luckily, some cloud cover came in right as we began our hike out. We evenb got a bit of rain at the steepest part of the climb out, which was WONDERFUL! Last time we did this hike, we nearly got heat stroke!
We made it back to the car and drove back to the valley after a wonderful day at Fossil Creek! If you want to see a video from the hike, you can see it here! In the video, I also share a bit about what makes this area so special!