Hike to Water Wheel & Ellison Creek Cascades

Water Wheel - Search Nearby - Added by Matt Whelan

If you a have a love for waterfalls and unique rock walls then this place is for you! Scenic views and gushing water gives this place excitement with every step!

A short and easy out and back hike for adventurers of all ages with scenic waterfalls along the entire trip!

Starting at the Water Wheel day use area you will simply follow the well traveled path that meanders alongside the creek. You will reach the first significant waterfall within minutes which is also a great swimming hole and cliff jumping area! But wait, there is more! Proceed upstream to yet another decent sized waterfall which I nicknamed "Bridal Veil Falls" once you see it you will realize the name is pretty self explanatory.

The main attraction is still ahead, just keep following the distinct trail upstream Ellison Creek making the easy bypass around Bridal Veil Falls and venture onward for about 1/4 of a mile and you will soon be greeted by the famous "Water Wheel Waterfall and Swimming Hole"

Its hard to explain just how beautiful the area really is until you see it with in person! Cool mountain creek water gently cascades about 80-90ft from the top of the gradual waterfall into a deep pool surrounded by large cliff walls. Spectacular would be considered a understatement for this Mogollon Rim Country treasure. There is a giant tree log stuck in the pool from a flash flood long ago that gives the Waterwheel area its iconic look, it has been carefully carved to imitate a natural staircase, it is a gorgeous sight but just watch your step if you plan on climbing on it because it is very slick!

Stay and play as long as you like and just simply return the way you came but just remember that this place is a day use area only now and camping is NOT ALLOWED! Above all enjoy the day exploring some of the many surprising swimming holes and waterfalls that Arizona has to offer!

Distance

1.8 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

105 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Cliff Jumping

Nearby Lodging

Flagstaff KOA

Flagstaff, Arizona

Mesa / Apache Junction KOA

Apache Junction, Arizona

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing Place That Is Now Gone

If you are planning on going to Water Wheel anytime soon, you might need to change those plans because the beautiful place is nothing that it used to be and should be closed for a while due to a huge flash flood

Be sure to go upstream!

From the parking lot, we followed the trail to the right (downstream) instead of to the left (upstream). Make sure you go upstream! You will reach the first waterfall within minutes. This spot is pretty crowded so it would be a good idea to go during a weekday. Have fun!

Great little hike for everyone. rewarding waterfalls and swimming holes

Bring water and beware of flash flooding.

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