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A Carved Tree Trunk Staircase Will Lead You To A Hidden Lagoon In Arizona

The perfect sun-soaked afternoon.

Finding magical hidden bridges or unique waterfalls is a must on our bucket list. Water Wheel Falls in Arizona is an explorer's dream, complete with a flowing waterfall, shimmering pool, and an awesome log, perfect for climbing around on. If you've been daydreaming about hidden lagoons and adventure, this spot will tick all your boxes.

Tucked away near Payson, Arizona, this watering hole is a perfect destination full of gorgeous natural landscapes.

The falls boasts a cascading waterfall that runs along a carved out log that resembles a staircase. It looks like something from The Goonies.

It's easy to lose yourself in the stunning foliage while you swim around the cold pool below the falls.

You can access the area by starting at Water Wheel trail, just a little ways off of Houston Mesa Road. Parking costs $9, and from here, you will turn upstream at the trailhead.

You'll continue uphill, towards a cascading waterfall, along the East Verde River until it runs into Ellison Creek.

To reach the falls, you just have to navigate around logs and boulders that lie across the river. Though the trail here almost disappears, you can just follow the granite and banks of the creek for about a mile.

The area is a little off the beaten path, but it makes for a great daytime adventure.

Once you reach the remote pool, you will instantly feel transported to another world full of pirates, adventure, and maybe even hidden treasure.

Or at least a cool log staircase and a tiny waterfall that you can splash around all day.

If you want this hidden oasis all for yourself, it's recommended to visit during the week, as weekends can get a lot busier.

It's best to bring shoes with a good grip as it can get slippery in some spots. 

This incredible pool is the perfect escape from reality and will whisk you away to a hidden oasis for an afternoon in the sun.

Water Wheel Falls

Price: $9

Address: North Houston Mesa Road, Payson, AZ

Why You Need To Go: This hike past gorgeous river scenery to a lush pool complete with cascading falls and a carved log staircase.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a site, respect the environment.