BUBBLING PONDS PRESERVE

Yellow-breasted Chat
Yellow-breasted Chat

Overview:

 

Located among the beautiful scenery of lower Oak Creek, Bubbling Ponds Preserve offers outstanding wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities. The Preserve is part of the Page Springs Fish Hatchery, an Arizona Game & Fish Department facility. Northern Arizona Audubon has partnered with the Arizona Game & Fish Department to provide a wonderful wildlife sanctuary designed for easy public access.

 

The 1.8-mile Black Hawk nature trail, which has signs describing riparian habitat and wildlife, meanders through the preserve and along Oak Creek. The Preserve which contains a large ramada, two viewing decks, an outdoor educational area and convenient seating areas along the trail, is a great place to see wildlife and is maintained by NAAS volunteers. Visitation to the area is from dawn to dusk seven days a week.

 

Bubbling Ponds Preserve is a wonderful example of a public – private partnership. The Arizona Game & Fish Department provided the land and its very helpful staff who supported the project from its inception.  The $45,000 cost of this project was funded entirely by Northern Arizona Audubon thanks to donations from its members. Members of Audubon also handled the design, project management and assisted in constructing many of the improvements.

[Note: click on all these images to view full size.]

 

BP-Overview-Architect
Landscape Architect’s plan

Bubbling Ponds Sat Map
View From Satellite
Bubbling Ponds
Entrance Sign – Parking Lot

The visitor experience commences immediately upon entering the parking area where a large colorful sign provides information on the Page Springs Hatchery, a map of the Black Hawk Trail and an explanation of the background of this nationally recognized Important Bird Area.This entire preserve is open to group usage and school groups and others are encouraged to come and visit.

Bubbling Ponds
Anita Macfarlane Ramada

A short stroll under Mulberry trees leads to the Anita MacFarlane Ramada. Anita MacFarlane is a long serving Audubon Member, helped initiate the long relationship between Audubon and Game & Fish and was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the ramada. The ramada has permanent tables and benches and is ideal for school outings or picnics.

Audubon sign
The Big Sign at the Ramada

At the ramada is a sign explaining Game & Fish’s fish hatchery program and their role in preserving our native fish species. Also displayed is an extensive bird list and information on the seasonal changes that visitors can expect as they walk about during different times of the year.

Bubbling Ponds
Mesquite Bosque

Upon leaving the ramada, the Black Hawk Trail leads through a cool mesquite bosque forest home to seasonal songbirds such as Western Tanagers and Cedar Waxwings.

Bubbling Ponds
Split-Willow Education Center

Exiting the bosque leads to the Split Willow Educational Area. An outdoor seating facility, it is situated under a grove of Gooding Willow trees and affords students an outstanding view of the surrounding area

Bubbling Ponds
Great Blue Heron Deck

Next on our tour, one reaches the Great Blue Heron Deck, named after those magnificent birds that nest on the Preserve. Sitting on the Deck one looks across the wetlands, a rare habitat in this arid part of the world

Bubbling Ponds
Willow Point Loop Trail

Continuing on, the visitor can follow the Willow Point Loop portion of the trail. Meandering along Oak Creek, this portion of the Preserve provides access to groves of magnificent old Fremont Cottonwoods. This riparian habitat is endangered throughout Arizona but is flourishing at the Preserve.

Bubbling Ponds
Marsh Deck – Mexican Garter Snake site

Returning to the parking lot, the visitor passes by the Marsh Deck. This viewing deck overlooks a cattail marsh that is home to the endangered Mexican Garter Snake. This marsh is one of the few breeding areas in Arizona for the snake, a nonvenomous and reclusive part of the riparian community.

Page Springs Fish Hatchery:

At 82 acres, this is the state’s largest cold-water fish production facility, producing nearly 700,000 trout a year. Rainbow trout is the main fish species raised at the hatchery. A small number of brown trout are also produced. The trout are stocked in surrounding streams and rivers, including Oak Creek, Verde River, West Clear Creek and Wet Beaver Creek, during fall, winter, and spring months when water temperatures are cool.

Bubbling Ponds
Page Springs Fish Hatchery Visitor Center

The Hatchery, which is located at 1600 N. Page Springs Road, Cornville, has an interesting Visitor Center that contains exhibits about it’s operation. Be sure to see the illustrated history panel. This Center is open all year with free admission.

NAAS-Wall
Northern Arizona Audubon display in Visitor Center

Audubon also has an exhibit in the Visitors Center that provides information on birds and other wildlife at the Bubbling Ponds Preserve.

The property also includes a smaller warm-water hatchery dedicated to the raising of native fish species. In recent years, this facility has produced sensitive species such as Razorback Suckers and Colorado Pike Minnow used by the department in native fish conservation and recovery efforts.

Aerial view Bubbling Ponds
Aerial view Bubbling Ponds. Courtesy of Doug Von Gausig

 

Located on the west side of Oak Creek and not directly accessible from the main hatchery area, these ponds form the core of the Bubbling Ponds Preserve and are used by many bird species. During the early spring, visitors may see a wide variety of waterfowl such as Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasbacks, Redheads and Mallards.

 

 

 

Restrooms and camping:

Bathroom facilities are located ½ mile south at the main Fish Hatchery complex. There are no camping facilities at the Preserve. However, camping areas are available nearby on Forest Service lands, or at Arizona State Parks such as Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood

Bubbling Ponds Biology

Birding: The Audubon Society has identified the habitat at Page Springs and surrounding riparian area along lower Oak Creek as an Important Bird Area. Over 200 bird species have been sighted here. Some common birds in the area are the Black-crowned Night-heron, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Osprey, and Common Black-hawk. Along the nature trail, numerous migratory species have been seen. Click here for a useful check list of bird species.

 

Fishing: The Hatchery is closed to angling.

Mammals: Skunks, raccoons and even river otters occasionally stop by to sample trout. Mountain Lions have been known to take deer on the property. In the surrounding uplands, Mule and Whitetail Deer, Elk, Javelina and Black Bear also occur.

Reptiles: The Northern Mexican Garter-snake is a threatened species found in the densely vegetated wetland habitat within the preserve. The snake is active during warmer months of the year and may be observed foraging for frogs, tadpoles and native fish near the ponds at Bubbling Springs. The snake is not poisonous and is quick to find shelter when people are present. They will emit a foul smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail when threatened.

 

Invertebrates: The Page Spring-snail is found only at Page Springs, from which several main springs and other minor springs arise. This snail typically occurs on firm substrates such as rocks, vegetation, floating algal mats and submerged woody debris.

 

Directions:

Bubbling Ponds Preserve is an easy drive from either Sedona or Cottonwood. The Preserve is located on Page Springs Road five miles south of the 89A/Page Springs Road intersection and just north of where the road crosses Oak Creek. Look for the Bubbling Ponds sign and enter the parking lot.

 

 

Take a 10 minute tour of Bubbling ponds.