/ The Phoenix Traveler
Phoenix — By Heather Wright Schlichting on August 3, 2010 at 5:59 am
Filed under: featuredarticle, hiking, Outdoors & Recreation, swimming

Day Trips that Make a Splash

creeks, hiking, outdoor recreation, swimming holeFor a desert terrain, Arizona has lot of swimming holes to cool off in.  If you’re looking for a good soak amidst picturesque scenery, there are natural spas made from mountain springs and rivers all over the state.  Ideal for hikers, picnickers and any type of nature enthusiast, some of these spots you can easily drive to, others require a short walk and some rock climbing and a few are a just reward after a long, hard hike.

Wet Beaver Creek
In the Wet Beaver Wilderness of Coconino National Forest, Bell Crossing, also known as the Crack, sits 3 miles back with sandstone walls 25 feet high that surround a pot of water that can be downright icy. A terrific three-foot wafer of rock overhangs the deep end which acts as a fantastic diving platform.  The bonus is a west-facing ledge that offers prime afternoon lounging.  A shallow pool 50 feet by 30 feet is a great swimming hole for kids.  They’ll love the rope swing!

Location: About 210 miles north of Phoenix. From Camp Verde, in central Arizona, take I-17 north for 11 miles. Drive 4.2 miles east on Forest Road 618 and park just before the ranger station. Hike 3 miles east along the Bell Trail. At the stream crossing, look up the canyon, and you’ll see the Crack.

Contact: Coconino National Forest, 928-527-3600

Hell’s Gate
Someone had a sense of humor when they named this lovely place.  Only a summer in Phoenix could make a swimming hole called Hell’s Gate sound inviting.

outdoor recreation, hiking, swimming

The creek at Hell's Gate with it's towering rugged walls.

A long, steep and strenuous hike down to Hell’s Gate is worth the sweat when you experience the ragged rock walls towering hundreds of feet above with a lush swath of green throughout the hike.  The route gets a bit sketchy once you reach the creek, but a trail continues on the other side, winding west a couple of hundred yards to where Haigler Creek joins Tonto Creek. There are a variety of good camping spots along the way.

Where: From Phoenix, take Arizona 87 (the Beeline Highway) north to Payson. Turn east on Arizona 260 and go about 11 miles. At mile marker 263, turn south onto the unsigned Forest Road 405A and drive half a mile to the trailhead.

Details: 928-474-7900.

Water Wheel
Crisscrossed by who knows how many creeks and canyons, the Mogollon Rim country north of Payson is prime territory for swimming holes. The most popular ones are found just east of the Water Wheel Campground, a recreation area off Forest Road 199.

As you hike east along the creek, you’ll encounter a series of swimming holes. The first few are wide and shallow, the ones farther east are narrower and fairly deep. The farther upstream you go, the fewer people you’ll find.

Where: From Phoenix, take Arizona 87 (the Beeline Highway) north to Payson. About 2 miles north of Arizona 260, turn east (right) onto Houston Mesa Road and continue 7.6 miles to a large camping/picnic site on the right. Park here and walk up the creek.

Details: 928-474-7900.

With several weeks left of summer these swimming holes offer a reprieve from the warm temperatures.  What a better way to beat the heat with a cool dip in a mountain stream.

Photos courtesy of flickr – wet beaver creek, hell’s gate

Tags: featuredarticle, hiking, Outdoors & Recreation, swimming

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