Water Wheel Falls

MODERATE 310 reviews
#4 of 110 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

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

river

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
rocky
scramble
5 days ago

Three 60 year olds. Clear day, in the 70s. Had to turn back where the two streams merge. It was too cold to cross and risk getting wet. A lot of water falls and fast water. The trail is not too difficult except it goes over a lot of solid rock and boulders, which for people with artificial joints, and a wired kneecap, it was a little scary. Beautiful little canyon. Some ice and snow on the sides of the canyon. Better when it is warmer.

14 days ago

Easy to find with a paved road that leads to a small parking lot. Beautiful views and a great place for pictures. There is no distinct path, definitely need to wear good grip shoes and be prepared to hop around to get to where you want to go.

hiking
21 days ago

Short and sweet. Took longer due to so many picture taking but I was blown away with such beautiful scenery!! You climb up and over boulders & large rocks. Plenty of waterfalls and beautiful!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Easy and thoroughly enjoyed the snow hike.. This a good family hike with children and would have to cross the stream in 3 places

hiking
snow
1 month ago

keep going until you reach the waterfall! We went right after a snowfall and it was beautiful to see and hear the icy water rushing, including the waterfall itself! The water wheel itself greets you to the left before you begin the trail. There are also lovely memorials for victims of flash flooding; we stopped and paid tribute as reminders of both human life and the strength of nature. We walked on ice over the frozen streams! if you follow the trickles, they become larger and larger bodies of frozen water, until you reach the rushing falls. There is a carved chair that you can sit in at the very end near the falls! I would definitely recommend this hike and will most likely visit again during another season to check out the difference. Be mindful of the massive horse pies along the route, though I rather take that than the unnecessary tagging done to the beautiful rocks :-( Beautiful hike, lovely natural workout. I highly recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

Everything and more for a relatively short hike. Beautiful views and you can make some cattle friends as well! Also gives you an option to explore further and take multiple routes.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy hike with great scenery along the way. Dog and kid friendly. Nice to have a waterfall hike in Arizona

3 months ago

What a watery wonderland!! :-D

hiking
3 months ago

My pup and I love this trail. It's an easy hike with plenty of spots to stop and take a break by the stream. It took us about 2 hours to get to the waterfall and back to our car, but we stopped plenty of times so the pup could play in the water.

hiking
4 months ago

This was a great easy hike. We went in October, after A LOT of rain and the stream was running loudly. It was a truly sensory experience, the air was cool and crisp, it smelled so good and sweet, the stream was rushing noisily. The ground was soft from recent rains, so the ground was soft, but it really wasn't slippery muddy. It's a great trail for exploring because you can venture somewhat here and there away from the trail. There is a lovely memorial to the three year old who was killed along with many members of her family in 2017 when a storm hit, causing a flash flood that swept away several members of a family. When we finished the downstream trail, we turned around and walked upstream-both ways were pretty awesome.

4 months ago

Beautiful! We brought our kids on it and they did great. Our youngest was 2 and he had no problem at all.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this on 9/15 with my wife and almost 3 year old son and our large dog. Amazing family fun and easy to access even with a small child. Had him hold a hand at all times since the terrain is rocky and uneven. The stream was very calm when we went, but still plenty of opportunity to wade in the cool water. Not a long hike, but lots of up and down over the terrain so make sure to bring plenty of water if its hot. Great place to pack in lunch and just enjoy the moment. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. The Tonto Forrest is a special place and we will certainly be back to this cool little trail.

5 months ago

after all the flooding it's pretty rough looking. slippery rocks and brown waters. busy and only small area to enjoy the 'water fall'

5 months ago

great spot. be careful of flooding

5 months ago

My kids favorite hiking / fishing spot!

hiking
5 months ago

Great family hike, took the 3 grandkids ages 4 to 8 and they all loved it

5 months ago

Great hike, a little raw but my kids loved it! The water at the end was cold but after the hike, you’re going in! Water was crystal clear and the go pro shots from jumping off the log were awesome! Wet rocks are slippery so watch out.

5 months ago

Awesome hike. Hard to tell if you are going the right way, but if you follow the river upstream then you will get to the end. I was disappointed that the water was brown the whole way through because I was wearing my swim shorts and hoping for a swim in a pool. I'd still recommend this hike though! It was beautiful and a lot of fun.

6 months ago

is alreary open ??or is still close..because i want to go next weekend

hiking
6 months ago

My family loved it! It was my 4 year old daughters first time really having to climb so I'm glad we went.

hiking
6 months ago

No trail to follow. Stay along the creek until you get to the large boulders. Once your at the area where there are several flat water falls, turn right and follow creek until you get to the area where the large water fall is with the tree branch sticking out.

7 months ago

Beautiful area. There are veins of deep green rock mixed in with the granite in layers. It is a short hike but beautiful. 7/15 is the one year anniversary of the flash flood that took ten lives in one family. There is a family memorial at the edge of the parking lot listing the names and ages of the ten that were lost in the flood. My wife and I walked to the end of the trail to see the water wheel. It is actually by the parking lot. Did some research on the wheel. The web say the wheel was used in the early 1900s by a gold miner named James Greer who used it to power an ore crusher. Nice to see a little history.

hiking
7 months ago

Good short trail, open as of 7/14/18, but the water is very brown and muddy from rain. Not much flowing water yet.

7 months ago

Closed today

8 months ago

Do you pay when you get there or do have to purchase a permit online? And 9 dollars per person or vehicle?

8 months ago

Great hike! Most of the trail is easy and easy to find, just follow the stream up. Took my dog and he did great as well! Several options for rock scrambling for more seasoned hiking and stunning views. Hopped in the water..... COLD as expected for May 1st! Will definitely make a return trip! P.S. Day fee of $9.00, bring cash, the PAY box is NOT well marked.

8 months ago

Forest area closed at Houston Mesa Rd.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail is not within the closure area according to www.FS.USDA.gov. Has anyone been there since the closures went in to effect on the 23rd. Thanks

hiking
8 months ago

Trail is closed until further notice (most likely until it rains).

hiking
8 months 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.

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