Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Fish Creek

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  Riparian and sycamore canyon species, and desert species

Elevation: 2500'

Habitat:  Sycamore and cottonwood riparian habitat nestled down in midst of tall canyons and surrounding desert mountains

Overall Birding Rating: 5

Difficulty: 1-3 (Easy to Moderate)

Birding Type: Easy to Moderate Hiking

Facilities:  Parking, convenient spots to camp

Fees/Ownership:  None, part of the Tonto National Forest

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  Apache Junction /44.5 miles east northeast of Phoenix

Getting there:  Roadside pull offs and parking easily accessed from the Apache Trail

Overview:  The views of Fish Creek and it's surrounding area is an unforgettable sight and is easily one of Maricopa County's top scenic beauties.  When driving on the Apache Trail to Fish Creek, the road drops drastically through switchbacks and windy narrow mountainsides, all the way down to the level of Fish Creek.  It is a two mile stretch when driving down the steep road until Fish Creek is met.  Once down at the creek, tall cliffs and canyons surround this narrow riparian canyon, where the views are breathtaking.  The tall rocks form a shady canyon as Fish Creek would be an enjoyable place to spend an entire day.  The habitat mix at the Creek is very interesting and runs along the Apache Trail for a good three miles.  Starting the first stretch of Fish Creek are stands of big sycamores, which are mixed in with walnut trees and several cottonwoods.  Some of the surrounding hills are filled with chaparral habitat as well as mostly Lower Sonoran habitat.  Big stands of cottonwood trees are met after a short distance up creek and continue throughout the three miles.  There are places where the cottonwood stands are thick and then there are locations where they are more sparsely spread out along the creek in midst of the desert.  This habitat mix will give Fish Creek good birding at all times throughout the year.  Regardless of what birds are seen, the trip down to this amazing scenic area is worth the trip alone!

Birding Tip:  This would be a great and interesting place to bird in all seasons.  If able, try birding in the creek bed for better results.  Walking along the Apache Trail to bird Fish Creek is a good way to go as well.  There is a lot of ground to explore throughout the three miles of Fish Creek along the Apache Trail.  The Apache Trail can be very rough a lot of the time, use caution when driving this dirt road.  Once reaching Fish Creek, the Apache Trail heads in the north direction before turning in the east direction.  The creek has a few forks, some east and west.  Any of these forks may hold productive birding.  See the maps page under the "Pages" section on this pages.

Directions:  Fish Creek meets up with the Apache Trail at mile marker 224 and goes for several miles close to mile marker 227.  When coming toward Fish Creek, the road starts to drop into the steep canyons and mountains at mile marker 222.  Once reaching level ground, a bridge crosses Fish Creek which is the first crossing of the creek with the Apache Trail, which is very close to mile marker 224. 


Fish Creek Maps


Scenes and Sights from Fish Creek:


Back to Area 3-Apache Trail

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