Water Wheel Falls | Payson, AZ

If you live in the Phoenix valley then you know how brutal the summers can get! When it is 100+ degrees many are looking for an escape from the heat. Luckily this fun waterfall hike is only a 1.5 hour drive away and happens to be one of my favorites!

I know I’m not the only one who favorites this gem either. It’s actually a very popular spot but if you’re new to the area or just visiting this would be a great one to know about!

The first time I hiked this trail was almost exactly 2 years ago with Monty. It was our first stop during our very first week long solo-hiking trip to Utah. It was also Monty’s first time being in water- he was only 5 months old 😀 He hated me for it but after we left and hiked the next waterfall he was ALL about water. So this year, since I’m only visiting Phoenix for a couple of weeks, I had to put this at the top of my list. And this time he ran straight for the river and I couldn’t keep him out of it! If you have a dog this is such a fun hike for them because you’re hiking and crossing the river along the way! There will be some boulder climbing and elevation changes but overall the hike is roughly 1.5 miles and short and sweet.

Once you make it to the waterfall it becomes a complete playground! It gets deep enough to jump off of the wooden log and rocks. The water is a beautiful color and definitely cold but probably not colder than Lake Superior. Either way it is a much needed escape from the heat!

Even though it is short, don’t let that allow you to forget taking precautions. Dogs are allowed but just because there is water doesn’t mean you should take your pup on 100+ degree days. Also don’t forget your sunscreen and plenty of drinking water for yourself. Be prepared to get wet during the hike- water shoes would be great to bring along. I honesty did this one in sandals and if it’s early enough before the sun bakes the rocks, barefoot! Lastly, be sure to check the weather in that area and surrounding areas. This is a flash flood zone and one actually came through two years ago causing fatalities (exactly 2 months after we visited). Just always do your research and plan ahead and you’ll be fine 🙂

This place is also very accessible! If you just google Water Wheel Falls in Payson and map it from there it’ll take you right to the trailhead. The parking area for the hike does have a day use pass of $10 cash or check only. Law enforcement do come out and ensure people are paying so be prepared. There’s no camping here but there are campgrounds to stay at in the area! Parking at the trailhead is limited, per usual. Summer weekends will be very busy but if you show up before 10am you’ll be golden 🙂

Water Wheel Falls will probably always be at the top of my list, and most likely Monty’s too 🙂 I am somewhat sad that we are moving from Arizona and won’t be able to visit yearly, but then again there will be 10x the amount of waterfalls where we are headed. Stay tuned 😉

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