FLAGSTAFF, AZ — The Fossil Creek recreation area -- a very popular hiking area known for its streams and waterfalls -- will remain closed for the foreseeable future, through at least the end of the year, and potentially as late as fall 2022, or later, to undergo assessments and repairs following the Backbone Fire and this season's monsoon storms.
"The decision to keep Fossil Creek closed to the public was made at the recommendation of a Burned Area Emergency Response team due to elevated post-fire risks in the area, such as flash floods, debris flows and dead trees," the Coconino National Forest said in a news release.
The lightning-caused Backbone Fire in June burned 42,000 acres. Photos taken by Forest Service staff showed burned slopes and trees, toppled power lines, a burned shed, and monsoon runoff.
Any permits that were issued for later in the year have been canceled and refunded, the Forest Service said.
Several roads, trails, and activities, including hiking, bike riding, driving, and boating, are prohibited within the area where potential hazards remain.
That includes the Fossil Creek corridor, including Childs, Sally May, Dixon Lewis Trailhead, Purple Mountain, Mazatzal Homestead, Fossil Creek bridge, Tonto Bench, Irving (Flume Trailhead), and Sheep Bridge Trailhead.
Towel Creek corridor, Sally May Wash, Doren's Defeat Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Mud Tanks Draw, and Bob Bear Trail are also closed.
You can read the closure order, here.
Those who violate the order could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 and up to six months in prison. Currently, the restrictions are in place until Dec. 31, 2021.
Another popular hiking area, the Havasupai waterfalls in northern Arizona, also remains closed to hikers and tourists until at least February 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.