If you are in the Payson area and have some time to kill. Here are little gem. Its about 20 minutes from Home Depot off a road called Houston Mesa. The road has a gorgeous view of the Mogollan Rim. There’s even a sign for Water Wheel parking after your cross a large concrete bridge.
The hike was about 1 1/4miles that I did. You stay along a tributary of the Verde River. Our experience of the first features is a Box Canyon which terminates with a sixty foot ribbon waterfall. The sides of the canyon are polished granite. The same water below has ride high up these walls and across to smooth the granite.
At the top of the Box Canyon,we have a much more open landscape. Plenty of water flows from multiple sides. Willow trees mix in with Sycamore and pines. There are several cascades that wind around close to the waters edge. They call out to you. I took advantage of dry conditions to explore at least 15 different cascades and third waterfall about 20 minutes from the end of the box canyon. The hike is probably closer to moderate with notrouble a lot of shade. Bring water or drink well before and after.
There are critters calling this home. The tarantula here is about three inches long and blends in really well. Several small lizards run rock to rock. I even saw a butterfly in November. There were few birds.