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Hike #21 – Williams Creek Fish Hatchery

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive 4.7 miles east on 260 to the Hon-Dah casino and turn right on SR 73.
  • Drive down the hill for 4.0 miles and turn left on to Williams Creek Road.
  • Drive 7.9 miles on the paved road to the Fish Hatchery. There are several gravel roads accessible from the paved road. The first is at about 0.9 miles from 73 where there is a T. The paved road goes right. There are signs at most intersections indicating that the hatchery is straight ahead.
  • After passing through the gate into the hatchery property, drive until you see a restroom on the right and a paved parking area with two picnic tables on the left. Park here.

Trail: The initial trail is a winding foot trail up and over a small knoll. This trail is pine needles over dirt. Then you have to bushwhack about 50 yards and then walk on paved or gravel roadways.

Trailhead and Directions: From the small paved parking area, the trailhead is on the upper right. Walk the winding dirt trail that is covered with pine needles until you come to an observation deck. From the deck, you can scan one of the ponds ahead of you for waterfowl. However, by mid summer, the surface will be covered with duckweed (Lemna sp.). Walk through the woods to the right of the observation platform down to a gravel road that circumnavigates a clear water pond. You can walk around the pond or beyond the pond a short distance to another pond. Come back up the gravel road towards the hatchery buildings. Walk around the concrete and fenced fish canals and up to the left to a building that says Visitor Entrance over the door. You can explore the fish tanks inside where younger fish are reared. An office here may have someone to answer questions. From here, you can walk farther up the hill to the east and on a few trails to look for birds. Return back to the center of the hatchery area and find your car parked to the south.

Access: Foot traffic only. The hatchery is on U.S. Government (Fish and Wildlife Service) property so an Apache tribal permit is not required as long as you stay on the federal property. If you wish to walk anywhere off the pavement on the road into the hatchery, you will need a permit. Note: The hatchery is open to the public from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The paved areas within the hatchery grounds are handicapped accessible.

Distance: The short trail is less than 0.25 miles; otherwise the distance is up to you.

Difficulty: Easy.

Features: The short trail has several interpretive nature panels. The hatchery ponds and fish ponds are of interest. The area is Ponderosa Pine forest at about 7,000 feet elevation. The ponds will have some ducks, mostly Mallards in summer, possibly a few Soras, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Black Phoebe, and other forest birds like chickadees, nuthatches, Bushtits, woodpeckers, jays, warblers, juncos, and others. Flowers are not abundant but there are globe mallow, geraniums, cattails, sweetclover, and others. All along the roadway in mid summer, you should see stands of Hooker’s Evening Primrose, globe mallows, and Fendler’s Ceanothus (deer brush).

Connections: None.

Williams Creek Fish Hatchery
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