Exploring the Beauty of Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail: A Perfect Day Trip Destination

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Are you looking for a place to escape the city and enjoy a peaceful hike? Then the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail might just be the perfect destination for you. This scenic trail is located in Payson, Arizona, and it offers breathtaking views of the natural beauty that Arizona has to offer. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail, including its history, difficulty level, and what to expect when you go on this adventure.

History of the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail

Before we dive into the specifics of the hiking trail, let’s first take a look at its history. The Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is located in the Tonto National Forest, which was established in 1905. The Tonto National Forest is one of the oldest national forests in the United States and covers over 2.9 million acres of land in central Arizona. The Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail was created in the 1970s and has since become one of the most popular hiking trails in the area.

Trail Difficulty Level

The Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is rated as moderate in terms of difficulty. It is a 1.5-mile hike each way, with an elevation gain of 300 feet. The trail is well-maintained and marked, but there are a few steep sections and rocky areas, so it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.

What to Expect on the Hiking Trail

As you start your hike, you will be greeted with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. The trail follows the beautiful Ellison Creek, which provides a soothing sound of rushing water throughout the hike. The trail also features several small waterfalls and swimming holes, which are perfect for taking a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. As you reach the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with the magnificent Water Wheel Falls, a 20-foot waterfall that cascades into a large swimming hole.

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Hike

To ensure a safe and enjoyable hike on the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear proper hiking shoes and bring plenty of water
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out
  • Watch out for slippery rocks near the waterfalls and swimming holes
  • Stay on the designated trail and follow all posted signs
  • Bring a camera to capture the stunning views

Why the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is Worth Visiting

The Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is more than just a scenic hike – it’s a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Arizona. The trail is accessible year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the foliage is at its most vibrant. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a fun day trip, the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is definitely worth visiting.


In conclusion, the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail is a hidden gem in the Tonto National Forest that offers breathtaking views and a peaceful escape from the city. The moderate difficulty level makes it accessible to hikers of all skill levels, and the stunning waterfall and swimming hole at the end of the trail make it a rewarding destination. So, pack your hiking gear and camera, and head out to explore the beauty of the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail.


1. Is the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail suitable for beginners?
  • A1. Yes, the trail is rated as moderate, so it is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
2. Are dogs allowed on the trail?
  • A2. Yes, dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
3. Is there a fee to access the trail?

A3. No, there is no fee to access the Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail.

4. How long does it take to complete the trail?

A4. The trail is 1.5 miles each way, so it usually takes around 2-3 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how long you spend at the waterfall and swimming hole.

5. Are there any restroom facilities on the trail?

A5. No, there are no restroom facilities on the trail, so it’s important to plan accordingly.

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