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The Tonto National Forest, Arizona, embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude (from 1,300 to 7,900 feet) offers outstanding recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it's lake beaches or cool pine forest. As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

Loved this trail! Fabulous swimming holes and gorgeous views! The trail isn't well marked, but follow the water up. You'll cross the flowing river several times, so expect wet shoes. Wear your swimsuit. We didn't bring a towel and dried off on the hike back. We hiked with kids (9-15) and 2 dogs.

Super easy but the trail is hard to stay on since you go over water and it's not marked well

Beautiful scenery, lots of water, but pretty easy to lose the trail.

Don't listen to Dave. You can easily make the road in a car to the Peralta trailhead.

on Ellison Creek Trail

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike! Very rocky but the water was perfect to swim in!

hiking
5 days ago

WARNING: BRING MORE THAN ENOUGH WATER. Then when you have enough water, bring some more. The signs suggest at least 1.5 Gallons per person. Maybe if you're hiking during the winter or cooler months. If you're planning on doing this hike during the warmer months, 2-3 gallons might be good.

We've done this hike before, so our group was forewarned and knew the hike down was going to be "easy" and relaxing and they knew to prepare for the hike out which is all uphill with the sun beating down your backs. Even coming in prepared, we had to take breaks on the way up just to wet our towels over our necks/heads. We saw two separate groups that made it about halfway and told them that if they're struggling trying to get down to the waterfall/springs, going out will be nearly impossible and one of the groups ran out of water (we gave them our water but they had already called 9-1-1 to be rescued).

So recap: Hike down will be quick 1.5-2hrs. All downhill. You've been sitting in the car for awhile so you'll feel great walking and hiking down. You finally get to the waterfalls, you swim, and loving life. Then the hike out. Uphill. Suns on your back. You think you're close to the end. Nope. More turns. More uphill. Oh that tree looks a familiar, we must be close to the end. Nope. Sun burning your arms/back. Legs burning from the incline. Then you start to worry if you have enough water. More heat. Finally reach the end and rejoice. The hike up felt like it was 2.5-3 hours.

If you're hiking this trail with 90+ degrees, please be wary. I feel that AllTrails should rate this hike as Hard/Difficult mostly for the hike out in the heat and the incline. Bring plenty of water. And then more water.

Now for the fun stuff: The Waterfall/Toilet Bowl/Springs area. This is a beautiful hike. Once you get near, you hear the roaring of the waterfall. The clear blue water allows you to see the small fish swimming beneath you. There are a couple spots for cliff jumping but make sure you check the areas to see if it's deep enough. There is also a small cave/grotto a little downstream from the waterfall. Very cool spot that you can climb onto the ledges and hop off into the water. Be careful when swimming around the falls because the current can get quite strong at some spots. The Toilet Bowl to the side of the waterfall is like a whirlpool once you get in (you can get there by diving underwater and swimming under the rock area and pop up inside the whirlpool) and I would not recommend going inside. The current is strong and if you lose your bearings, it could get really bad, really quick. Bring towels if you want to lay out, some pool floats also worked well to just chill and relax on. I wouldn't recommend this if it's crowded because it would get annoying with all the pool floats, but we were basically the only group there in this heat.

Our group enjoys this hike because it feels like you "earned" the trip. You feel exhausted and accomplished when you're done. The waterfalls and swimming holes were definitely worth the trip, but please be careful out there. BRING WATER, MORE WATER, and MORE WATER. We witnessed people almost die and had to call the ambulance. This trail with this heat is no joke.

The signs will say "This Trail Does Not Lead To The Waterfall." But it does. Just follow the signs leading to Fossil Springs/Toilet Bowl. The signs also say that this hike is difficult. Yup. Agreed.

Approximately 4.5 miles in to the falls and 4.5 miles out. Although that hike out feels like 6-7 miles.

Enjoy!

hiking
5 days ago

on Water Wheel Falls

6 days ago

This was a nice hike. You don't need a pass or to pay a fee for this trail so that's a plus! Once you get to the very top it is somewhat unclear which path to take down. So many options! We are definitely going to take our dog next time we go.

Best place I've visited in Arizona so far. Great way to beat the heat. Brought my two dogs and they loved it. The first quarter mile is very easy, however the rest of it is pretty rocky and involves lots of climbing over rocks and walking through water, so I'd say it's more moderate than easy. Well worth it though.

I recommend water shoes (like Keens). My partner and I both had keens and still slipped twice on the rocks.

The views are beautiful, and the water was ice cold, even in a 105 degree day. The water closer to the top was a tad warmer.

I'm not sure where the water wheel is though. Couldn't ever find it.

hiking
8 days ago

About to go there, for now I'm leaving 5

hiking
9 days ago

Not a place with lots of shades along the trail but can easily get some off trail to rest. Views along creek is pretty and hike on the big rocks are fun. Be aware of the wet slippy rocks when crossing creek.

Great place to go in AZ when it get hot out!