Water Wheel tends to be more popular to the locals because its a very easy hike to the lower swimming holes in the same area as Cold Springs. There is a large parking lot(fee area) with Bathrooms. The Fee to park there is $6 per day, or visit the Houston Mesa Campground at the entrance to Houston Mesa Rd and they sell a yearly pass for all Day(fee) areas along the East Verde River for only $15!!! The trail starts the the Northern edge of the parking lot and follows close to the side of the cliff. It goes up over some beautiful Granite to the spot were Cold Springs and the East Verde River come together. This area provides huge amounts of rock hopping and lots of swimming and wading in cool pools of water.
This area also proves excellent for Fishing in the early mornings when no one is around. Even within 20 feet of parking you will get plenty of bites!