Water Wheel Falls Full Information – Map, Particulars & Professional Suggestions






The Water Wheel Falls is a 1.6 miles mountaineering path within the Tonto Nationwide Forest 9 miles north of Payson in Arizona. It’s a quick hike with fabulous views that permits you to comply with the banks of two rivers and ends at a crystal-clear swimming gap. The hike is taken into account to be reasonably difficult however packs lots of enjoyable boulders climbing, cliff leaping, swimming holes, and waterfalls!

? Route Particulars & Map

Water Wheel Falls

  • Issue: Average
  • Begin: Water Wheel Campground/Trailhead
  • Finish: Water Wheel Falls
  • Distance: 1.6 miles (2.5 km) spherical journey
  • Elevation: Round 150 ft climbing
  • Common time to complete: 2-3 hours
  • Charges: $10 from April 1st to October 31. Free from November 1st to March 31.
  • Child-Pleasant: Sure, older than 8 really helpful
  • Pet-Pleasant: Sure, on a leash

Water Wheel Falls Mountain climbing Path Map:

Arizona is an out of doors fanatic’s paradise, with limitless choices for tenting, mountaineering, mountain biking, fishing, water sports activities, and way more. Out of all of the out of doors actions carried out in Arizona’s deserts and mountains, mountaineering is by far the most well-liked.

There are such a lot of iconic hikes in Arizona: The Grand Canyon, Havasupai, Satan’s Bridge in Sedona, Humphrey’s Peak, and Antelope Canyon, to call a number of. With fashionable hikes comes crowds and congested trails, which is why searching for out lesser-known hikes can afford a extra gratifying trek.

One such mountaineering vacation spot is Water Wheel Falls, situated simply exterior the small mountain city of Payson, Arizona. Positioned on the base of the Mogollon Rim plateau in what is thought to locals as “Rim Nation”, Water Wheel Falls is a quaint however picturesque water function on Ellison Creek.

Let’s discover!

Water Wheel Falls

Water Wheel Falls: What to Count on

Carved into the attractive grey granite by the flowing waters and occasional flash floods of Ellison Creek, these falls cascade over a number of rocky outcroppings into crystal clear (and really chilly) swimming pools under.

Ellison Creek Pool

The path to the falls begins on the Water Wheel Trailhead and Campground on Houston Mesa Rd, only a few miles north of Payson, and ends at Water Wheel Falls (often known as Ellison Cascades).

There isn’t a lot of a path when you attain the East Verde River, after which take the fork off to the precise into Ellison Creek. There may be lots of boulder hopping and creek crossing, so put on good mountaineering footwear with rugged soles and keep away from this hike if in case you have poor stability.

The trek is 1.6 miles whole out-and-back. You’ll be able to end it in half-hour, however most hikers will take their time on this hike because of the difficult terrain, so anticipate to spend about 2-3 hours right here. In the summertime, you would possibly even spend half a day right here having fun with the chilly water and refreshing swimming pools.

Group of Hikers Near the Allison Creek Waters

The Ellison Creek swimming gap is situated on the base of the falls, which flows down rock that has been smoothed right into a slide-like cascade through the years. A customer way back positioned an outdated log (or possibly a flood deposited it there) alongside the falls, and notches within the log mean you can climb up safely to the highest.

Water Wheel Falls will get its identify from the historic water wheel situated close to the trailhead, which was constructed within the Nineteen Thirties by a neighborhood miner named James Greer. The water wheel was constructed to make use of the water of the East Verde River to show it, powering what is named an “ore crusher” to extract gold from the earth.

Water Wheel Arizona

How Lengthy Does It Take to Do the Route?

On common, most individuals can full the Water Wheel Falls hike in 2-3 hours for the complete spherical journey. In the event you’re much less snug boulder hopping or crossing the flowing creek water, it would take you longer. In the event you’re unfamiliar with the route, that may even add time to your hike.

This isn’t a typical hike with a well-marked path and easy footpath; you’ll be choosing your method amongst boulders and brush as you comply with the creek upstream.

Is the Water Wheel Falls Troublesome?

Most hikers will discover the Water Wheel Falls path to be average or troublesome, regardless that the space itself is brief.

But it surely actually is determined by your health stage. Assured hikers with good stability and sure-footedness could have a good time leaping from rock to rock and crossing the creek a number of occasions. Put together to get moist!

Though there isn’t a lot elevation achieve, you’ll nonetheless be challenged bodily as you make your approach to Water Wheel Falls.

Ellison Creek Waterfall Seen Along the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail in Arizona
Ellison Creek waterfall seen alongside the Water Wheel Falls mountaineering path


  • The Water Wheel – a hand-crafted wood construction constructed by James Greer in the course of the Despair Period, this still-intact historic water wheel sits simply off the East Verde River. You’ll be able to stroll as much as it and see it up shut!
  • Ellison Creek and East Verde River – Few rivers and creeks in Arizona circulation year-round, and these two are notably stunning. Your children and canines will take pleasure in frolicking within the water in your approach to the falls.
  • Nice climate – The climate within the “Rim Nation” is milder than that of the decrease deserts, and is a favourite summer time escape for a lot of Phoenicians. The winter months could also be too chilly to go to Water Wheel Falls, however for about 9 months of the 12 months, the circumstances are good!
  • Boulder-hopping – Neglect in regards to the normal clean trails and well-marked routes! This trek requires some route-finding and far of it requires boulder hopping alongside the creek mattress. It isn’t attainable to get misplaced, so long as you keep close to the creek.
  • Native natural world – Towering Ponderosa pines, oaks bushes, and different native vegetation all make this a nice atmosphere to spend the day. If you’re fortunate, you would possibly even see deer, elk, coyotes, or different animals that make these mountains dwelling.

Professional Suggestions for Mountain climbing the Water Wheel Falls Path

Based mostly on my expertise mountaineering the Water Wheel Falls path, listed here are my high suggestions that you need to comply with:

  • Put on footwear with a grippy sole! You’ll be climbing and hopping alongside moist boulders and slick rock, so good sturdy footwear are extremely really helpful (right here is an efficient one).
  • Carry your personal water. It isn’t really helpful to drink the water within the creeks until you’ve filtration system (equivalent to this one)- higher to deliver your personal! The route is in full solar, so plan forward for warmer days.
  • Search for cairns. These small stacks of rocks are sometimes arrange alongside the most effective route by earlier hikers when a path isn’t as apparent. In your approach to Water Wheel Falls, cairns will help you discover the best way by way of the boulders.
  • Verify the climate! That is particularly vital within the late summer time months in the course of the monsoon season. Ellison Creek is a really lively watershed space and is susceptible to harmful flash floods, even when the storm is way away. Individuals have died at Water Wheel Falls earlier than from sudden floods, as it’s troublesome to listen to or see the speeding water earlier than it reaches you. If there’s a storm brewing, take into account doing this hike one other day.
Ellison Creek Seen on the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail

Ceaselessly Requested Questions


The towering pines and funky mountain air as particularly inviting in the course of the summer time months, and few actions are extra enjoyable than a water hike to a beautiful pool and waterfall! Water Wheel Falls simply exterior Payson, Arizona is a hike that any adventurer ought to placed on their checklist.

The path includes some way-finding and creek crossings, and the pool and falls on the finish of your trek are refreshing and well worth the hike. Whether or not you make a day journey out of it or add it to your weekend itinerary for an prolonged journey up north, take into account seeing the outdated water wheel plus the unbelievable Ellison Creek for your self!

You received’t be upset.

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