Happy Hiking: Bell Trail

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I arrived in the Sedona area Sunday afternoon in hopes of finding some nice, dispersed camping after the weekenders left.  Surprisingly, tons of spots were taken and as a resulted I squeezed into the only option left on Forest Road 689 and shared it with a large 5th wheel.  Little did I know, I selected a campsite just minutes from Bell Trail, one of the hikes I saved on the AllTrails app.

Bell Trail Hike to the Crack

The Bell Trail is a 6.9 mile out-and-back trail located in the Coconino National Forest between Rimrock and The Village of Oak Creek.  The rocky path follows the Wet Beaver Creek through the cactus laden Wet Beaver Wilderness. 

The trail undulates along the hillside as it weaves through mesquite and juniper trees and around tall orange cliffs.  Though a crisp morning, early signs of spring emerged as one cactus was in bloom and a few patches of pink flowers dotted the trail.

Along the way to the crack, many spur trails lead down to the river where there are some nice swimming holes.  Additionally, the Bell Trail is also a part of a network of paths.  The Weir Trail, the Apache Maid Trail, and the White Mesa Trail all connect the Bell Trail, providing several hiking options in the area.

The crack is the ultimate destination for the Bell Trail.  Here, the canyon narrows, and beautiful rock ledges extend over green swimming pools.  While it is easier to access the river off the spur trails, it is worth hiking to the end for the views.

10 second video of the crack

I took the Bell Trail hike on a Monday morning in March at 8am.  Based on all the campers and all the reviews on AllTrails about the popular hikes around Sedona, I thought I was arriving late and would be sharing the path with many.

I mistakenly parked at the overflow lot located at the Bruce Brocket Trailhead which adds four-tenths of a mile roundtrip and some elevation as hikers must climb up and over a ridge to connect.  While VANgo was the only car in the parking lot (aside from some fifth wheels camping overnight), I still expected to run into people on Bell Trail.  Not so! I was the only one.

Return from the Crack on Bell Trail

I spent a relaxing 30 minutes at the crack as Annie and I snacked before heading back around 10:30am.  I still didn’t see anyone for the first mile of my return, though as the temperature warmed, the geckos and birds became more active.  Finally, there was some human life, though not much. Overall, I probably passed by fifteen folks, a handful of whom were very chatty.

Annie snacking on her bone at the crack

Annie got some loving from a little girl.  Multiple people asked if I got good photos after seeing my camera attached to my shoulder strap.  And one couple from California thought I was taking this hiking seriously with lots of gear and a compass.

The compass was the controller for Annie’s e-collar as I illegally let her off leash for most of the hike.  Fortunately, she is very good about returning when called, so I rarely need it, but there is always an exception.

After three days of running (New Mexico, Petrified Forest, and now here), she finally wore herself out, and stuck by my side for most of the return.  Additionally, I could leave her in VANgo while strolling around Camp Verde without her freaking out.  Miracles do happen! 

Dispersed Camping Forest Road 689

Ending the day back at my campsite, I got some new neighbor as the others left.  For my second night in VANgo, I tested the heater again.  I’m slowly dialing in the temperature while trying not to use all the propane in my 5-gallon Vanagon tank.

The Propex 2800 operates rather efficiently.  There just aren’t any gauges on the tank and the thermostat is simply a knob with hot and cold like in a hotel shower or old cars.  Consequently, I’ve been playing a bit of a guessing game at the moment.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

4 thoughts on “Happy Hiking: Bell Trail

  1. So many fabulous trails near Sedona! I hope you have time to get out to Dry Creek (past Devil’s Bridge, what a zoo that is) — to Boynton Canyon and Doe Mountain and Mescal Mountain. I also love Fay Canyon if you want a short easy hike. Looking forward to more posts!

    1. I was camped pretty far south so I will do Boynton canyon next year. And only plan to hike around Sedona on Tuesday thru Thursday. Otherwise, too crowded with parking filled up before 7am at Cathedral.

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