Ellison Creek

A weekday classic, also referred to as Cold Springs. Broad granite slabs play home to one-half dozen pools. The premier spot is at the bottom of a two-tier fall that’s about 40 feet high. The tank is 35 feet across and around eight feet deep in the center. My favorite feature is a dynamite sunning rock at the bottom of hole. A huge tree trunk is wedged parallel to the fall and has some steps cut into it. No real purpose to the steps, you can’t dive from it since the water’s not nearly deep enough. It’s just something to scramble around on, fall and get injured.

The trunk probably washed down after a 1990 fire that burned 24,000 acres at the top of the watershed. Dead trees and disturbed soil tumbled downstream, depositing lots of silt in this otherwise deep hole. Officials reseeded the burn area immediately, but say it still took two years before the siltation even slowed down. Since then they planted trees, but it will be many years before restoration is complete and places like Ellison Creek reach normal depth.

Pity the person who arrives here on “senior ditch day.” Ellison Creek is a high school party spot. Many fire rings and broken bottles at the parking site. There are also some steep pools on the East Verde just below the road crossing. Pretty, but who wants to swim in water that minutes before was rinsing hubcaps on cattle trucks?

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