The water wheel falls trail is about 90 miles from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. If you are going to use your GPS, type in “Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail.” You will be on AZ-87N for a while. If you have time, stop at the viewpoints to appreciate the desert landscape when you are in the valley. Then notice the tree line change once you are in the Payson area. Payson is a great location to stop to use a restroom or pick up food. There are many fast-food restaurants and food stores for groceries. On holidays and weekends, the roads to this hike can be very busy. There are many camping locations near the trailhead and those campsites fill up fast.
Water Wheel Falls Details
This is an out and back type of trail. It is reported to be ~1.5 miles with 150-foot elevation gain per All Trails. This is not a flat hike. There are many large step-ups and therefore large step-downs. I sit on my butt and slide down in many areas. I bring leather gloves with me, in case the rocks are hot to touch.
We have hiked this trail many, many times over the years. There are times when there was very little water in the stream. It snowed once when we were there. Sometimes there is a lot of water running in the stream and you have to maneuver your way around the rocks if you do not want to go into the water. I like going in the spring and fall to see the green leaves on the trees and the flowering plants.
As with any hike, let someone know where you are going. This area is a high flood risk, so review the weather before you go, just as you would for a slot canyon hike. Bring sun protection and lots of drinking water.
When you search “Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail” on the internet you will see the Log. This is where everyone hikes too. We like to sit and have a picnic here. When the weather is warm (most of the year) and if there is water, people will get in the water. Many people will walk out on to the log for a photograph. Many times they slip into the water. If you are one to slip in, I recommend a change of clothes in your backpack.
Water Wheel Falls Hiking Trail All Seasons
Over the years, we have enjoyed bringing family and friends on this hike. We plan to continue to do so.
Would you climb on the log for a photo?