Water Wheel Falls is a 1.5 mile heavily 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, and nature trips and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 1.5 miles Elevation Gain: 150 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

washed out

off trail

Note: The parking lot is closed due to COVID-19 but parking is available along the road. Please see the park's website for up to date information. Please note that local authorities may close the trail intermittently. NOTE: This trail is in a major flash flood area. Please check the weather forecast before planning your trip and be mindful of changing weather patterns. Short hike with wonderful views and the option to continue up to the Ellison Creek Cascades. If you're in the area it's worth the trip. There is no official trail. It's more a trail of use that skirts away from Water Wheel campgrounds.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
3 days ago

Very nice and easy trail which leads to beautiful place to swim and relax. Clearest water ever. Really rocky and sometimes we felt lost since the trail is not very evident when you hit the rocks.

hiking
6 days ago

Hiked this trail yesterday. Parking lot was open, but completely full by 9am on a Saturday. The trail was crowded and tons of people at the final waterfall and swimming area. Beautiful hike, moderately difficult because you have to climb over rocks. My five year old did it with help, but we had to carry the two year old in a pack; it was too difficult for her.

hiking
rocky
7 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

Trash City. Hiked this trail yesterday. Very beautiful but that is overshadowed by the fact that that lazy people have left their garbage EVERYWHERE. Baby diapers, cans of food, water bottles, dog sh!t. Seriously people pick up your trash or stay home!

hiking
rocky
13 days ago

Would definitely recommend ! B e a u t I f u l ! Rocky and will get wet if you’re clumsy . Do we have to pay for permit ? Don’t know but there’s a place to pay

hiking
scramble
14 days ago

Beautiful area. Overcrowded. Mostly hiking over rocks so not for everybody.

hiking
14 days ago

Fun, short hike that we did a little bit ago. Can be fun to play in the water at end of trail. Usually lots of other people.

hiking
rocky
scramble
14 days ago

So fun! It is a short hike, but very rocky and lots of boulders. The rocks were also very slippery at times. Not the easiest hike in the world, but so fun. The waterfall was fun to play in but the water was very cold.

hiking
closed
19 days ago

COVID-19 UPDATE: around 5:00PM, we saw that the parking lot was closed. We followed suit and parked on the street with everyone else. We were on the east side of the street. The entire west side had been ticketed and both the park ranger and sheriff were present. There was a sign that said that the hike was to be closed to adhere to social distancing. We were really looking forward to this hike and will have to check back when it has been reopened.

hiking
19 days ago

Very cool trail.

hiking
20 days ago

This hike is like rock climbing! There are a lot of boulders and our dog loved it! I did have to carry her in some really steep areas.. but she was overall a total champ. By far one of the most picturesque and beautiful hikes out there.

hiking
off trail
rocky
scramble
21 days ago

So this hike is only a mile in and DO NOT BRING Your dog, elderly parents or anyone who is off balance. This is a very rock MT terrain and it’s just cruel to bring your dog of any kind.... it’s pretty for sure and if you are up for a quick in and out it’s great. But if you are traveling from PHX to solely go to this hike. It’s a long drive. Again... do not bring dogs and elderly!

hiking
23 days ago

First time coming here and we loved it! Hike was not bad at all, the most difficult part is getting around and over the rocks and boulders. Had to sit and go down them for a few, but I am also clumsy. Had to cross a few creeks so shoes will get wet. Loved the water all around us on our way to the main attraction. Water was freezing but I still got in. Made a nice walk back. Would definitely come here again. Oh and please pick up after yourself if you go. Leave no trash.

hiking
rocky
scramble
23 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

Nice spot to see a little water! More 'bouldering' than hiking I would say. Actually really busy however... Would be a fantastic spot if it was your own private watering hole up the creek! Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone...

hiking
no shade
rocky
27 days ago

You will get wet! You will climb rocks. Wear shoes with good traction that you don't mind getting soaked. I didn't actually see the wooden water wheel, which someone told me is where the main falls are. My GPS tracked 1.78 miles but that's probably because I parked on the roadway due to the parking lot being closed. Trail is not clearly marked but you do need to cross the creek more than once. Gorgeous hike with swimming hole reward at the end. I will return.

hiking
closed
rocky
28 days ago

Not closed-park on the street. Lots of people here. Not a long hike at all, a bit of rock climbing but very easy. Beautiful waterfalls at every step you take. Lots of places to swim. Gets a bit chilly after 5pm once the sun lowers. Water is very cold. Trail gets a little lost at times.

hiking
no shade
rocky
28 days ago

Loved it. One of our fave spots. Parking is closed but everyone parked on the side of the road. Be prepared to boulder hop but all in all an easy(ish) trail. We did it with a 4yo and he did just fine.

hiking
1 month ago

Is the trail closed?

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful. Later afternoon was a good time of day to go. Nice spots to sit and enjoy scenery and such a kid friendly hike. A few water crossings that leave some hiking in soggy shoes but just a natural ac.

1 month ago

This is my new favorite short hike. The the parking is closed but everyone just parks on the street so not a big deal. The entire trail runs along the water. Be prepared to get your feet wet at some spots. Feels refreshing! once you get to the end there is a decent sized waterfall with water deep enough to jump in and lots of space to lay back and relax. Highly recommend!

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