1.8 Miles (Out & Back)
1 out of 10
1.8 Miles (Out & Back)
1 out of 10
If you’re new to the Greater Phoenix area and you’re looking for an easy hike, look no further than the Waterfall Trail, which is located in the heart of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. This trail can be fun for the entire family, including your out-of-shape pets (like our Alaskan Malamute, Eli!)
However, whether you’re hiking the extremely difficult FlatIron Hike in the Superstition Mountains or just strolling up through the Waterfall Trail in the White Tanks, you should be prepared. With this in mind, we’ve prepared answers to the 5 most common and frequently asked questions for hiking the Waterfall Trail in Waddell, AZ.
1. How much does it cost to get into the White Tank Mountains?
Most of the trails in the Greater Phoenix area are free to enter. However, the Water Fall trail is located in a staffed Arizona County park. As of the writing of this blog post, the fee to get into the White Tank Regional Park is $7 per vehicle (car or truck). However, If you’re on foot, riding a bike, or even riding a horse, then your entry fee will be $2 per person.
The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department does sell an annual pass for $85, This $85 fee includes a pass that belongs to a single individual. It is possible to pass the “Park Pass” around amongst your (same household) family members, but we highly encourage you to grab a pass per adult in your household as the fees are put to great fuse (additional vehicles within a family are $20/each). You can actually purchase this annual pass at the White Tank Nature Center which is attached to the White Tank Branch Library right next door to the park entrance.
If you live in or near Maricopa County (and have the primary pass with an additional pass), the annual pass(es) will pay for itself after the 13th visit to any of the Maricopa County Regional Parks (assuming you have two passes). Wondering what other parks you can explore with this pass? Click here to review the complete list.
2. What time does the White Tank Regional Park open?
The opening times for the park change seasonally:
- From May 1 to October 31, the park is open from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
- From November 1 to April 30, the park is open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
The White Tank Nature Center hours also change seasonally:
- From May 1 to October 31, the Nature Center is open from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday.
- From November 1 to April 30, the park is open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.
Additionally, there is always something fun going on at the White Tank Regional Park. The park even has an event calendar detailing all of the fun family activities.
3. How long of a hike is the White Tanks Waterfall Trail?
The trail is 1.8 miles from start to finish. This includes a walk of 0.9 miles in and 0.9 miles back. The first half (almost 0.5 miles) of this trail is on a paved sidewalk that is wide enough for families coming and going in each direction without having to veer too far off the path.
The trail is very informative with signage, as most regional park trails are. The signage at the trailhead is very detailed for this hike. You’ll get a full understanding of the birds and plants that you can expect to see.
As with most hikes in Arizona, this trail is best enjoyed in cooler months (from October through April). There is no shade on this trail until you reach the plunge pool at the end of the trail.
The Waterfall Trail is considered the easiest trail, per Maricopa County trails’ official rating system which is why we list this trail as a 1/10 on our difficulty scale.
4. Is there really a waterfall on the White Tanks Waterfall Trail?
The short answer is Yes. The long answer is probably not.
As you reach the end of the Waterfall trail there are stairs that have been cut into the stone. These stairs lead up to the plunge pool (This is the collection of water that a waterfall falls into – I didn’t learn this term until moving to Arizona) of the White Tanks Waterfall. The best time to see water falling is immediately after a rainfall – especially during the winter months. Of course, this isn’t all that frequent of an occurrence in the Phoenix area, so consider yourself very lucky if you see water falling.
5. What can you expect to see on the Waterfall Trail hike?
When I make this hike with my family, we are always trying to find something new. We were astounded to learn about petroglyphs on the Waterfall Trail. As the paved portion of the trail ends you will start to see petroglyphs drawn into many of the various black rocks along the trail. Some Arizona scientists believe these petroglyphs date back 10,000 years. You can read all about the history of the White Tank Regional Park including the petroglyphs.
Many Alltrails hikers report rattlesnakes during their hikes. You are also likely to see many coyotes simply driving to the trailhead. These coyotes are not afraid of people and will walk right up to your car looking for food. The park has pretty strict rules against feeding the coyotes.
There are dozens of unique plants on this trail and depending on the time of year that you make the hike, you are certain to see some of Arizona’s most beautiful landscapes. On this trail, you’ll find Teddy Bear Cholla, Staghorn Cholla, Christmas Cholla, and of course plenty of beautiful Saguaro Cacti.
The Waterfall Trail hike is a beautiful and easy hike for the whole family. Since the first 0.5 miles of the trail are paved, it’s even wheelchair accessible. Anytime we have friends visiting from out of town, we always start with the Waterfall Trail.
Of course, while on this trail, or any trail in Arizona, practice No Trace Left Behind. There are several trash cans located near the bathrooms and trailhead.
I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this trail and hopefully you are able to see a flowing waterfall. Go Hike Arizona! If you’re looking for a little more of a challenge, we recommend climbing the Verrado Stairs just down the road.