The Water Wheel Waterfall Hike near Payson is a great place to go with the family to escape the Phoenix heat. There are picnic spots as soon as you park and even some swimming holes. If you are up for an adventure, you can hike up the creek to the waterfalls and even more swimming holes. This starts out as a dirt trail but turns into boulders, just follow the creek! When you arrive, to start the trail you will head to the left.
The trail is rated “easy” but I would actually put this as a “moderate” trail. The boulders and hiking through the creek can get tricky. Also, there aren’t any trail markers along the way so you’ll need to be aware. I highly recommend downloading the Alltrails app. This app allows you to look at trail maps and you can take them with you to ensure you are staying on the trail.
Water Wheel Waterfall Hike in Arizona
- Put in your GPS: Water Wheel Day Parking
- Start at the parking lot trailhead then follow the creek up.
- You will cross the creek when it starts to turn.
- Walk up the creek (you’ll really be hiking through water and marsh).
- You will find a dirt trail on the right as the creek turn again.
- Hike up until you need to cross on the left again.
- The final pool/waterfall will be the dead-end to the trail.
Tips for hiking the Water Wheel trail:
*Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of water. The temps when we went in July were around the 100’s and we were extremely hot. When we go hiking, we always wear water packs! These are very convenient because they hold multiple liters of water and fits nicely on your pa
*Cell phones do not work so well so if you are planning on meeting a group, coordinate ahead of time.
*When I first went on this trail, I brought hiking boots but I would actually recommend a shoe with a good grip that could also get wet because the farther you go, the more you will need to get your feet wet. The second time I went, I brought these water hiking shoes and they worked well!
*Get there early, this place gets PACKED!
*Please pay the $6 fee. This is a self-pay honor system and I was disappointed to see so many people just walk by without paying. This behavior creates a stricter system where quite possibly we’ll have to have pay ahead permits in the future. The fee is small compared to the fun you get to have so bring cash with you to support our forests!
**To piggyback off of that, please pack your trash and take it out with you. Again, destructive behaviors will only hurt the future of this spot.
*If you are unable to park in the lot because of space, you can park on the side of the road.
*Bring a couple snacks and a towel and enjoy the end of the trail.
*If you don’t mind cold water, you can swim in the watering holes throughout the creek including the one at the end.
*If you like a little privacy, you can hike up to the top of the falls or there are some private areas along the creek if you look for them.
* You can read more reviews here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g31305-d8524789-Reviews-Water_Wheel_Falls-Payson_Arizona.html