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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Ellison Creek Cascades, AZ

AZ > Payson > Payson N
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Guide 47 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson N
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,150 feet
Elevation Gain 95 feet
Accumulated Gain 323 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.37
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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12  2020-06-06 adv_trev
4  2017-04-14 kelraen
25  2016-09-30 cabel
15  2016-08-14 cw50must
4  2016-07-17 arizona_water
6  2016-04-11 MountainMatt
7  2015-04-06 The_N
9  2014-09-21 AZ_Step
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 241
Routes 830
Photos 11,690
Trips 4,550 map ( 22,920 miles )
Age 50 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Sep → 11 AM
Seasons   Spring to Summer
Sun  5:22am - 7:39pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Payson's hidden oasis
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
2012 Notice: Access has changed from text below, this hike now starts at Second Water Crossing.

Jesse W. Ellison was a rancher and also a colonel of the Civil War. Ellison was known to herd cattle in the area giving the creek it's name. Interesting to mention Ellison's daughter Duette married George W.P. Hunt. Hunt was Arizona's first governor and is entombed at Papago Park along with the Ellison's.

This is one of Arizona's favorite swimming holes. Personally it's my favorite. There is no official trail, but rest assured this area gets used. From Cold Springs Camp Grounds continue walking past the gate on FR420. Pine covered rolling hills make the views going down the old jeep track. Sure would be nice to live here.

At a quarter mile the road levels for a short distance and then begins to climb. Keep an eye over your right shoulder. You should be able to hear the cascading water of Ellison Falls. You need to find one of the several trails of use down to the swimming hole. If you come to a fence with a huge private property sign you missed the scramble down to the creek. Back track about a hundred or more yards and go on down. Be careful as it's steep.

Holding par with other Payson recreation sites the area is trashed. The lure is obvious. Ellison Creek cascades down from the private property above. This is my favorite swimming hole in the state. It's close to the valley and easy to access. The water is usually crystal clear barring a recent rain. Even in a dry year like this has been it's reliable. Be forewarned it's packed with beer guzzling party goers on hot weekends. Go during the week and it's a lost oasis awaiting your arrival.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2000-06-02 joebartels
  • guide related image
    guide related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
Special Use

$8.00, pay in drop boxes.

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From the 260 / 87 intersection in Payson go north on 87 a couple miles to the Houston Mesa turnoff on the right. Follow 8.2 miles to FR420 which is just after 'Second Crossing'. Turn right onto FR420 (at the message board) and follow short 0.2 mile to unmarked Cold Spring Camp Grounds. The trail is the continuation of FR420 past the camp grounds at the gate.

2012-09-24 Outdoor Lover writes: FR 420 is now permanently barricaded at Houston Mesa Road, with a "No Parking" sign at the Barricade. To access FR420, you now park at the "2nd Crossing" Day Use area on the Left. Cross the Road to a small Trail going up the Hill, just North of the Crossing. This Trail will continue to go up and intersect with FR420, where you will take a Right to proceed down to Ellison Creek Cascades.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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