Box Canyon Trail

MODERATE 44 reviews
#7 of 8 trails in

Box Canyon Trail is a 0.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, Arizona that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

0.9 miles
170 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips





wild flowers


This is a moderately difficult short trail with amazing views on your way to a great swimming hole in box canyon. Once you find the trail head within the forest along the deer fence, the first part of the trail starts going into the forest which then takes you to the rocky ledge of the canyon where you must hike/climb down. The views are spectacular and the destination is even nicer. The trail can continue from the swimming hole to the private BSA camp 'R-C'.

20 days ago

Reading the reviews really helped! Short and sweet!

2 months ago

Tried to go 6/4/18 - Closed as are nearly all trails along 260 due to extreme fire hazard.

Drought. No falls or water

3 months ago

Directions from JP and Chrissie T were super helpful. Found the embankment and deer fence without any trouble, trail into the wooded area, clearly marked! Then a little confusion...... until we looked down and noticed the arrow, after that, stunning views into the canyon, stopped at several points to take pictures, the trail going down, and back up not as difficult as we anticipated, we just took our time both directions. Would have spent more time in the water and it not been SO cold!!!

3 months ago

Mile marker 271, pull right and park. Pass gate and cross cattle bars, stay straight into open field until the orange/white "caution type" sign and cairn, or Karen as I called her and called out to her many times seeking direction along the way. At one point I saw Karen perched high on the edge of a cliff and I just had stop there because I didn't see a realistic way to reach her. At this point we did see rock climbers which was pretty impressive. I would have liked to see more but it just seemed too risky. This hike is physically challenging and makes you have to consider which choices are best to make. I liked that, but the lack of water actually falling from the rocks and the nasty water pool, I really have no desire to go back. But, glad I did it. One liter of water was enough for our 2 hour hike. It would have been better in more supportive shoes, but we managed in our Nike's.

3 months ago

Great directions lovely hike

4 months ago

Seems like an ideal place for picnics. Wouldn't recommend bringing dogs.

5 months ago

A nice hike indeed, a dangerous one if not careful. Hard to find since road was moved! More like 18 miles from Payson, near mile marker 271, right before the green roof cabin at the Boy Scout camp on the right. Do not go if rain is expected and save for summer months when hypothermia is not a threat. The rocks at the base are slick even when dry and many an air vac have rescued those who fell and broke or became stranded going up on the other side. Be sure to stay left when you come to the cliffs. Some people scramble down the cliffs on the right but it is dangerous. There is a much clearer path if you stay left which is a slower, safer descent to the mouth of the canyon. Once there look downstream and know that all of that can be safely traversed if careful. Suggest crossing the narrow stream at the bottom of the descent at the now “top” of the canyon and look for the easy scramble down the first rock face to the water. Continue safely exploring by swimming downstream a bit to next speck of dry rock. Stay within ability to climb back up; small dogs not suggested, but strong ones who swim can make it. Stay safe!

7 months ago

So close to the highway and so beautiful! I was grateful for the trail description from Chrissie here because it is not marked and we likely would have turned back had we not had those details.

9 months ago

We parked on the side of the freeway and climbed up the embankment you can clearly see where you walk up not hard to find. After a short walk you will see a fence... go under the fence ...first part of the trail is flat.. trail itself is not marked stay straight and look for a very small incline up and a ledge..once you hit the ledge follow the path down to the left. The decline is steep lots of flat large rock's be careful. We saw mountain climbers training and practicing.. follow the trail down keep going it's a short hike down but remember what goes down must come up. Once you get to the bottom the view is amazing. Very enjoyable hike bring water and snack if you just want to hang out at the bottom and enjoy the view for a bit. Reserve water for the very steep incline UP you will need it. Overall it was an amazing hike.

10 months ago

Do you need a permit to hike this???

11 months ago

Beautiful, quick hike. start from coordinates given by alltrails, which is off to side of highway. entry is up the embankment (~12 feet). 3 min after you find the trail, you go under a fence. flat walking for next but, great scenery as you start to see the canyon, and then the trail goes down to the waterfalls. somewhat steep descent on smooth rocks. small waterfall and pool. return ascent gets heart rate going.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Just wanted to let people know the 2 photos with the long log is called water wheel/Ellison creek in payson.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Beautiful trail! Starts out pretty flat terrain, then you start down a beautiful rock trail along the mountain side. Pretty quick hike to get the blood pumping. Finding the trail is not easy. The map with start you on the side of the road (hwy 260), park before the guardrail, climb up the dirt embankment and you'll find little dirt trails you can tell people have used. When you come to the fence look for the hole and climb under. Then it's pretty easy from there. Just follow the dirt/rock path to the creek. If you want to get in the water, bring water shoes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Beautiful quick hike down to a quiet paradise. I had the place all to myself and took a quick swim in the freezing water! Lots of great rocks to climb. And a few small waterfalls.
The trailhead was not very clear but if you park just before the guardrail, get out of your car and climb up the embankment right there, it's a quick scramble up. Then follow the path to the deer fence and crawl under.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The destination is lovely! The parking/trail leaves much to be desired. Access to the "trail head" is on a large highway shoulder. That is, there is no official parking lot- you're merely pulled off to the side of the highway. Steep incline scramble off the shoulder to a rough trailhead. After a brief walk there's a clearing and you'll need to find a small rock-lined path that will take you to a footpath. Short but rocky decline to the creek. Final destination is very pretty! Summertime swimming-hole for sure. This time of year it was temperate and peaceful. Luckily I hiked with someone who had been there a few times before; I'm not confident I'd know the path in/out otherwise.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hard to find the trailhead, You can park on 260 just north of where the guard rail ends. Scramble up the embankment and follow the trail to the left. Crawl under the deer fence and follow the trail down to the water.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Park after M M 271 (east bound ) on side of 260 climb up side of embankment at big dead (broken in half ) Tree Follow trail south under fence approx. 1/4 mile to canyon edge ! Proceed with caution !!! Jesus loves you !!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Getting a 0 for parking being on a freeway.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Great little escape.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Great hike, cool swim. Trail head was a bit hard to find. Park on side of road by red hillside (if you get to scout camp, you passed it). Walk up either side of hill and toward deer fencing. Cross over/under fence where possible (easy spot at top of hill). Hike straight out until you get to trail. Go left and at the Y go to the right side. There is a small but visible trail down to the water. Wear sturdy shoes and bring extra clothes or something to swim in.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Know where you are going and where to jump. Favorite place in Arizona.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

awesome!!! took the family and had a picnic...a little challenging but not too bad, my 4 year old did it!!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Finding the trailhead was challenging, follow the deer fence until you come to an area you can go underneath. When in the forest, make sure you go right at the clearing/fork to get to the box canyon ledge where the hike is across rock descending quite steeply. The views are amazing, and there is a great waterfall and swimming hole at box canyon. The trail can continue to the Boy Scout camp which is private property.

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