Solo mission – 7/9/11
Hiking in the summer usually calls for a trip North to cooler grounds. I made the crucial mistake of thinking I could pull this off in the Sedona area. I figured it would be in the 90’s which would be a significant drop in temperature compared to my location of Tempe. I opted for a trail which followed a permanent water source the majority of the way. The Bell Trail off of Wet Beaver Creek…
The trail begins at the Beaver Creek trailhead…there is ample parking but it can fill up on the weekends. The trailhead also has outhouses, however I HIGHLY recommend you stop at the rest area before the turn off.
The trail begins as an open path, somewhat rocky at times that meanders around the left side of the creek. The wide trail finally reaches a fork where you can choose to continue on the Bell trail (left and upwards) or the Weir trail (right and downwards).
After reaching the Bell/Weir fork the trail narrows and glides along the cliff edge …this is where the hike shows its true colors, the red rock juts to the sky in an impressive spectacle of nature; piñon and juniper trees dot the landscape, and pockets of shade greet you like a long lost friend.
Finally the trail begins it’s descent back towards the creek reaching Bells Crossing – you can either scramble over the rocks to the left and reach “The Crack” as known by the locals – an impressive swimming hole with a natural diving rock or you can cross the creek and continue on upwards onto the Mogollon Rim.
This 8.4 mile loop trial is best completed during early morning hours while the sun is still showing some mercy – If you start at noon like me, you’ll end up in the Crack with all your clothes on looking like a roasted tomato. I used that as my turn around point this trip due to the excessive heat and was able to get half way back with my wet clothes acting as a cooling agent…until they dried and the oppressive heat bore down on me once again…
Would I do this hike again? Most definitely, but this time I will be more prepared for what it has to offer.
Directions to the Trailhead:
From Phoenix, take the I-17 to Exit 228 (Sedona exit) turn right and drive two miles southeast on Forest Road 618. Turn left on Forest Road 618A (follow the sign for the trailhead) and continue another 0.25 miles to the parking area.