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Saturday, May 8, 2010


UPDATE: APRIL 1, 2011 Good news, hikers, as of April 1, 2011, the Water Wheel-Ellison Creek area off Houston Mesa Road north of Payson has been reopened for day use ONLY. Due to the 2009 human-caused Water Wheel Fire, this primo hiking destination has been off limits-- but no more. Here’s the rub---there’s now an $8 per person day use fee. Self-service kiosks are posted at key access points. Hikers must deposit cash (bring exact change) into provided envelopes and carry the detachable permit stub while inside the fee area. Forest Rangers are aggressively enforcing this new fee---and fines are much more than $8!! WATER WHEEL CLOSURE UPDATE: MAY 8, 2010 Drove up to Payson today to hike and decided to check out the damage caused by last summer’s Water Wheel fire on my way back. Although Houston Mesa Road is now open, there are signs posted long the 1–mile strip where the Water Wheel, First Crossing, Second Crossing and Third Crossing campgrounds are located that warn “no stopping or standing” and the campgrounds are posted with “area closed” signs. The fire charred more than 700 acres, yet, to my amazement, the beautiful old sycamores at the Water Wheel site are intact. Just beyond, though, the hills are burnt down to stubble and it look pretty messy and dangerous. So, please obey the forest service warnings and do not wander into these areas until they are deemed safe again. SEE MY ENTRIES FOR EAST-VERDE-ELLISON CREEK AND WATER WHEEL FOR PRE-FIRE PHOTOS. INFORMATION:, (928) 474-7900

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