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Author Topic: Water Wheel Camping - Payson, AZ  (Read 3255 times)

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Offline pinchel (Rob)

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Water Wheel Camping - Payson, AZ
« on: September 02, 2014, 06:25:04 PM »
The family got out of town for the Labor Day weekend. I wanted to leave town on Friday and come back on Monday but we ended up leaving on Saturday kind of last minute. We hoped it would be cooler. It was definitely cooler there than Phoenix at night, but during the day it was 90ish and felt a lot hotter if you were in the direct sun.

We were unsure of the campsites near Water Wheel and most of the info that I could find seems to be outdated. There are 4 areas of interest but really only 2 that are much worth visiting. They are in order of nearest to furthest, First Crossing - Water Wheel - Second Crossing - Third Crossing. Seems like the water level was very low judging from the dry water marks on the rocks in the area so if anyone has seen the other pictures of some of the places they look like lots more water was there at the time. Which might have made it more interesting...

However, we camped further up stream in the Verde Glen area. All four of those places of interest are day use only so other people camped in between the spots not sure it was totally legit but not once did I see a Ranger so who knows. We drove pretty far up where there were the fewest vehicles and where we could drive into the woods where other cars that were there could not. It was rocky and uneven but enough smaller areas just off the graded gravel road.

It was a great campsite and the one further off our little trail was a better one but some 'frat boys' were there, and while they seemed nice, we didn't mingle with them. They were up all night that first night till the sun came up and loud as hell. They left the next morning, I should have taken pictures of their campsite. They left a roaring campfire on what was to be a windy day on Sunday with trash every where. Disgusting. Anyways, I and the kids cleaned it up and attempted to lay down the fire, which took most of the day.

Then we were alone... but other campers were near you just couldn't see them, could barely hear them.

Some pics:
We hiked to this area from our campsite but we aren't sure what road this was as it was not on my little trail map.








This is Second Crossing, much easier to get to from the parking area and not as crowded because nobody seemed to know how to get there. Duh, follow the water.


This is just past that first pond once you climb down, an easy climb down, but it looks hard from above.




Sadly, I took very few pictures on this hike at the actual Water Wheel area. It was a medium to hard hike. Our kids did it, but man, we under planned for water and distance. It was a little stressful. It's a hike to get the end where the cliff is. Which was crowded. There are plenty of water areas on the way there. This was about mid-point to the main swimming hole.
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Offline Hammer (Avi)

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Re: Water Wheel Camping - Payson, AZ
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 08:24:16 PM »
It sucks that you ran into irresponsible campers, they are the ones that get signs posted that say "day use only" or "trail closed" good job cleaning up after them.  Glad to hear you had a good time, could you pin this spot on a google map, maybe I'll have to check it out one day soon. 
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Offline pinchel (Rob)

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Re: Water Wheel Camping - Payson, AZ
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2014, 09:54:57 PM »
So after looking at the map, this is where our campsite ended up being, and now I see what road that was behind us. We didn't go up that road because it was a turn off blocked by lot's of vehicles camped out near that turn off so we figured we would have been by lot's of people. But our campsite was really close to another road (NF-195) that led to the same place further north to the Verde Glen campground area.

Next time, I'll want to check that road further up. Looks like there might have been a rather larger mud hole further east down RF-64, so we'll have to check that out for sure. :)

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« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 09:57:44 PM by pinchel »
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