Water Wheel Falls

MODERATE 253 reviews
#5 of 119 trails in

Water Wheel Falls is a 1.5 mile moderately 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 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

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

washed out

off trail

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
21 minutes ago

Definitely not easy, as rated. It’s short but you are climbing up and down large rocks. Small waterfall at the end, refreshing water if you bring a swim suit. And yes parking cost $9, so bring exact cash.

2 days ago

Loved this trail

hiking
9 days ago

This is a photo perfect spot for jumping off the cliffs into the creek, however there isn’t a whole lot of creek to jump in, so it does get congested easily. It is a short trail, easy traverse over boulders, like walking up stairs. There is a cave with a waterfall on this trail, where some boulders have fallen. BIG CAUTIONARY NOTE: I have personal friends who have been swept away and killed in flash floods in this area, please try to avoid during monsoon season, you can be easily become trapped under rocks and drowned. This is also an area with a lot of trash

hiking
10 days ago

do you have to pay for parking?

hiking
13 days ago

This was a pretty hike and was more challenging than expected due to our having to climb on and around large rocks.
Since this hike is in a frequent flash flood zone, people have changed the direction they go based on the water level. As a result, there appeared to be multiple trials that make it difficult at times to follow. The waterfalls at the end was very attractive. Beware of the slippery granite rocks around the falls. Even if not wet, they are very smooth. Allow a little longer to do this hike due to the climbing. It took us about 2.5 hours for this three mile hike, even with frequent stops for photography.

21 days ago

Not easy as rated. There is no defined trail and it is unorganized. We couldn’t believe we had to climb over boulders and such to get across. We didn’t know if we were on the right track. It gets hot so I would go early if you go during the summer.

hiking
29 days ago

I look my wife, 4 kids and small dog for this fun little hike. Everyone gave it a 5 star review! The water was warm enough to play in (even in Mid April) and the trail was was well established. Water crossings are a must if you really want to enjoy the trail and stay cool so I wouldn't bring your boots if I were you. The trail was a little more technical than I thought my 4 year old son could handle, but nobody fell or got scared so I guess it wasn't too bad after all.

hiking
1 month ago

My dog loved this place! It was beautiful and very well maintained ❤️ I didn’t prepare well so next time I’ll do the whole thing but my dog basically just wanted to swim so I let him play

1 month ago

Don’t forget your cash because it’s no longer $6. It’s now $9/car and we didn’t bring enough cash so we were turned away; opted for the Peach Orchard. Hopefully we’ll get back there soon!

1 month ago

Very popular = over crowded on weekends. Lots of family fun!

beautiful hike

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful Scenery!

1 month ago

Great trail for the whole family ! My 3 year old LOVED it! Get wet and go out and explore !

3 months ago

Love this area and hike. You can really go so many different ways up here and find a lot of different places to explore and shot photos or just swim and relax. Little pools everywhere. Amazing rock canyons, little waterfalls all over and the big one of course with the little cave and multiple falls. Be careful the rocks are slippery and it is very dangerous around the falls. My dogs loved this area we went back at night to shoot night pics and had fun then too. I know there's been some bad Hingis with flash floods here so I made sure and you should make sure to check the radars around as you're about to head there. Be extra safe it can't hurt!

4 months ago

great hike

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike, no bears were seen (although some poo, footmarks and scattered bones were there) and no rattlesnakes.
Just so you know, there is no actual water wheel at the end of the trail, only an intimidating “no trespass” sign.

hiking
4 months ago

Loved every moment! Walking through the water, swimming hole at the top with a waterfall! Fun for whole family, including the fur babies! One of our favorite hikes!

4 months ago

Just in case anyone is wondering, it's closed to the public right now. 8/5/17

4 months ago

Great family hike!

4 months ago

Great time fun tail with a little climbing and some great scenery!!

5 months ago

I had the best time on this trial. was short but was able to blaze our own a bit. Saw the leaves chance colour and the grounds were great!

great hike!

6 months ago

I loved this trail it was beautiful!!! Be prepared to get wet .....it was fun!

hiking
6 months ago

Absolutely beautiful

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful easy trail with lots of waterfalls and canyons. Tree lined creeks are perfect to sit and relax. This trail is fun with lots to explore. The wheel is off to the side at the beginning of the trail.

hiking
6 months ago

Need advise if trail is flat, Wife had ankle surgery and she wants to get out of Mesa/Phx for an easy one.

hiking
7 months ago

Pretty easy with smooth rocks all the way. Brought a 5 & 6 year old and they had fun. Falls were pretty and we passed several families. Brought older kids and almost had a heart attack as they were more daring and crossed the falls and scaled some scary rocks. To go past the falls plan on getting feet wet. Actually up to your knees. Past the falls we heard a javaliena snorting, so we turned around and decided to return home. Remember when parking to pay the parking fee... saw them enforcing it while we were there. Never found the water wheel but other hikers said it isn’t there anymore.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike! After the 2017 flash flood, we couldn't find a clear crossing to continue south on the "official" trail. Instead, we climbed up the granite boulders to the left/west and ended up on some great pools and cascades (East Verde River). Could have hung out there all day sunning on the rocks; water was a bit too cold to swim. Very few people during the midweek (October). Totally worth the trip.

7 months ago

Lots of views and waterfalls, drove 2 hours for this and totally worth it, wasn't able to find any wheels but felt like a winner anyways!

hiking
7 months ago

I just hiked here on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. The trail is back open after the flood, though a bit worse for the wear. There are several logjams in the trail, so be prepared for a little extra effort. Still a very easy hike. My two kids were able to make it to the top with no problems (ages 5 and 4).

Make sure to bring shoes that you can get wet--you need to cross the river to complete this hike. It's well worth it though for the awesome swimming hole at the end of the trail! This is definitely one of my favorite Arizona hikes.

Also, in the summer months, pack TONS of water. This hike can get hot. I usually plan on about 64 oz per person to be safe.

Finally, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pack out your trash. It breaks my heart to see beer cans, etc. marring the beautiful scenery.

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