Best Hikes in Arizona
Arizona Trails

Best Swimming Hole in Arizona – The Parson’s Spring Trail

This trail explores one of the most spectacular Canyon areas in the state. Parsons Trail along Sycamore Canyon is a 7.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Clarkdale, Arizona that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. It’s also the South End of the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon which is one of the larger Canyons in Arizona.

The trail begins with a steep drop of about 200 feet from the rim to the canyon floor. After that, things remain mostly level all the way to the spring, which is just shy of 4 miles away. The first thing you’ll notice along the bottom of the canyon is the trail itself. It’s smooth and sandy and easy on the feet, and in the fall it’ll be covered with autumn leaves. You’ll also notice the water. You’ll hear it initially, then, after about 10 minutes, you’ll come to the first of many small pools. The first pool even has a miniwaterfall.

Although this hike is rated Easy, it does require some boulder-hopping and some concentration. All of the crossings are marked with cairns, but some can be hard to find. This area floods regularly, which obliterates many of the markers. Look closely and you’ll see where to go.

After a couple more creek crossings and about 15 minutes of hiking, the largest pool along the hike will come into view. To get there, you’ll have to detour off the trail about 100 feet, but the extra steps are mandatory. Be sure to bring something to swim in OR take it all off and dip in the “buff”. Either way this is an epic swimming hole. An excellent way to cool off in a hot Arizona day.

Beyond this point, the trail climbs away from the creek and skirts a canyon wall for about 20 minutes. Then, it’s back and forth across the creek until you come to Parsons Spring, which pumps out more than 5,000 gallons a minute. It’s water that turns an otherwise dry streambed into a perennial creek.

BEST TIME TO GO: This trail can be hiked almost year round. However, it the summer it can be extremely hot down in the Canyon so bring lot’s of water and fluids to drink. If you want to see the peak of Fall Colors, then November might be your best bet.

HOW TO GET THERE: The trailhead is located off of 89A at the Tuzigoot National Monument turn off. Look for Sycamore Canyon Rd. This road is paved for a few miles until it turns into a gravel road. Follow this road for a 8 or so miles until the road dead ends. There are two trailhead at the parking lot. Trail number 66 (the Packard Mesa Trail) and Parson’s Trail. Both are the same trail that goes straight down. The Parson’s Trail continues straight while the Packard Mesa Trails turns LEFT.

WHAT TO KNOW: There is a NO CAMPING ZONE near Parsons Spring. However, once you cross the border into the designated Wilderness Boundary you can camp after the Spring.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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