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Ellison Creek is a wonderful swimming hole tucked back between Payson and the Mogollon Rim. It takes a short drive, a mile hike down a dirt road or if you want to take the scenic route, An incredible hike through a prehistoric looking landscape of slate and dense foliage, a jump over the creek and several ponds that you have to navigate over and around to reach this inviting, cold clear swimming hole that is most definitely worth the trip.
At first jump, the water is so cold it takes your breath away for a few seconds. Really, it is that cold at first. Why is it that the kids just never seem to mind the cold and just go for it. They don't get cold until they get out and the breeze makes the goose bumps erupt over every exposed body part. Apply towel, problem solved.
This is a very popular swimming hole on the weekends. If you want a more private oasis then head up during the weekdays. Make damn sure you have Tevas or some other slip proof water shoes as any of the rock that gets wet is very slippery.
This is one of my favorite places and I try to hit this spot at least once every summer. It is a scenic paradise to say the least. Butterflies flitter among the trees and the cool water
Houston Mesa Campground is one of the nearest large campgrounds and is just west of the SR 87 and Houston Mesa Road
From Payson, head north about 1 mile from the intersection of the SR260 and SR87 (the corner with the McDonalds on it). and turn right on Houston Mesa Road. Stay on Houston Mesa road for 8.2 miles just after you cross the creek (your tires get wet) and head up the road a couple hundred yards to the next turnoff to the right a and head back near the closed gate and park. Hike up the dirt road up and to the left until you reach a low point in the road apporximately 0.5 miles. head down the path to the river that you will hear off to your right. Once at the river, go upstream a few hundred yards until you see the pool.
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Having a little fun climbing up the tree trunk or getting ready for a spectacular belly flop?
Another swimming hole just a few yards downstream from the waterfall.
Crystal clear water in below the Ellison Creek Fall. You can see a few small fish swimming among the people.
This gray slate is predominant in the area which lends to the prehistoric look about the entire area.
Looking downstream below the main pool. It is a worthwhile hike to go downstream about 1/2 mile to enjoy the convergence of Ellison Creek and the East Verde River. There are several waterfalls including a nice 25 - 30 footer which then leads down to the Waterwheel area which is a great pool in it's own right. Don't forget to bring your camera like I did.
Dogs will definitely enjoy the cool water as the temperatures rise throughout the day.
Looking straight up the waterfall. The pool is pretty deep at the center. Off the top of my head, I would say it is at least 10 feet deep. You can easily swim under the tree trunk.
There's nothing like finding a spot under the fall to get soaked.
Butterflies can be seen throughout the area.
Photo Credit: Lisa Mishler
Looking down from above shows the size of the main Swimming hole.
Looking down from the top of the waterfall to the swimming hole.
Another look at the hole. The surrounding rocks are very slippery when wet.
Ellison Creek Waterfall