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Water Wheel Falls [CLOSED]

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Tonto National Forest

Water Wheel Falls [CLOSED] 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

closed

off trail

Closed as of July 2. Wildfires have burned more than 224,500 acres and there is ongoing, extreme fire danger due to dry conditions and hot temperatures. 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.

4 days ago

As of this morning this trail is closed and they are ticketing.

closed
4 days ago

As of July 3, 2020 this trail is currently closed by the Forest Service. There is a US Forest Ranger sitting in the parking lot after people parked along the road and went in giving out tickets.

hiking
closed
5 days ago

Unfortunately the Tonto National Forest is closed right now due to high fire danger, so we weren’t able to do this hike and had to turn around. Several people were observed ignoring the closure, but not us. There are lots of homes in the nearby area and I would feel terrible if my actions lead to a forest fire that has such a high potential for home loss.

hiking
8 days ago

6-28-20 First peeps on the trail at 5:15 am...on the road about 5 minutes before trailhead witnessed many herds of Female Elk with some calves! Water was flowing strong and so enjoyed our adventure taking in all the beautiful scenery and waterfalls! Enjoy!!! No fees, washroom on site, plenty of parking if you get there early!

hiking
8 days ago

This trail was so much fun. There are a lot of rocks and sand and boulders. The boulders make it easy though because they are all jagged almost like stairs welcoming you up. There are a bunch of waterfalls on your way up making it perfect to stop along the way and dip your feet in. Highly recommend!! oh also.. there isn’t any more trail at the top of the waterfall. It’s fenced off with a private property sign.

hiking
rocky
19 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

Really fun little hike. Old primitive water wheel is seen early on. Parallels creek all the way. Well travelled path under trees and quite a lot of flat rock to cross over. Call it mild rock climbing. Good place for younger kids to adults. Pretty little falls along the way-fo the distance for the larger falls. Go early in the summer. Pools for splashing. Loved it.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
23 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

Very unique trail. Fun to see families out enjoying the water. If you are brave two spots to cliff jump into water.

hiking
rocky
24 days ago

We got there today (saturday) at 8:30 am we took the last of 3 parking spots left. Did not have to pay for parking. We loved it! Our dog and 4 year old completed as well! There was lots of trash. Would be nice to see more trash cans. We took the rocky, water way down to the waterfall, water was beautiful, it started to get packed so we left and took the road back out to the car! We will be back! We loved it! Plan to get wet!

rocky
25 days ago

Had a blast today, hiked with my wife and 68 yr old mother inlaw.

hiking
rocky
25 days ago

hiking
rocky
26 days ago

It was a great area... but I gave it 4 stars because it is so crowded and there were little kids and dogs running around unattended between the two fall areas. It’s gorgeous and there are a lot of places to stop and swim. The trail requires quite a bit of rock climbing and there are a few spots where you have to cross the creek if you plan on getting to the big falls. Definitely a must see but plan on going in the middle of the week.

hiking
26 days ago

I hiked this trail with my husband and two young boys- ages 15 months and 3 1/2. We wanted to do a hike away from Scottsdale that was cooler in temperature and had water. This hike did not disappoint! It was cool the entire way as the river/water was to our right the whole time. Also there was a lot of trees which provided shade. The hike was also so beautiful every step of the way- with multi colored red/black boulders. The only challenging part was crossing the river but we managed. Also, it was very crowded due to COVID, but you could find your own spot near waterfall and feel privacy if you desired. The only concern with so many ppl and the pandemic is that they would try to help me or my sons and I did not want anyone getting close and touching us!

hiking
27 days ago

Easy trail get to the water, the fall is so nice, though it was cold in June. Lots of people swimming and jumping off the falls.

hiking
28 days ago

Great place to visit! Absolutely loved it here!

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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.

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