February 2016 – We packed up our RV in Tucson, Arizona, when the daytimes highs began to creep over 90 degrees, and hightailed it back through Phoenix and on up to Sedona where the 4,000′ elevation makes the climate about 10 degrees cooler than down in the Sonoran Desert regions of the state.
We hadn’t been in the red rocks in over two years, and when we first caught sight of the towering red cliffs and rock formations that envelop the town of Sedona, we were almost breathless with excitement. We couldn’t wait to hit the trails, and one of the best places to immerse yourself in red rock scenery is right in the heart of it all on the Bell Rock Pathway.
We were joined by special friends, and we set off on our mountain bikes.
Bell Rock Pathway is one of the most popular hiking and biking trails in the area, and it is inundated with bus loads of tourists every day. But we were on the trail fairly early on a weekday morning, and there were just a few hikers here and there.
The magic of the Bel Rock Pathway is that you don’t have to go very far to be totally wowed by the scenery. In fact, we always find we get swept up in the stunning scenery right in the parking lot, and many of the bus loads of tourists never make it past the asphalt!
Bell Rock Pathway is beloved by walkers, joggers, and mountain bikers, and the path is wide and relatively smooth and extraordinarily scenic.
The Bell Rock Pathway parallels the main road, and there are three parking lots that give you access to the two ends as well as the middle of the trail. We started at the southern end, and the trail climbed steadily for about a mile. But the jaw-dropping vistas were worth every huff and puff as we went along.
Bell Rock Pathway is a very easy mountain biking trail and is ideal for beginners. Yet there are just enough little challenges here and there to keep more advanced riders on their toes. The views become more and more spectacular with every pedal stroke.
After the first mile, the terrain goes up and down and sweeps around twists and turns qutie a bit. And then suddenly it opens up to this fantastic area of wide, flat rocks.
Standing in the middle of this wide open area, there are eye-popping views every way you turn. It literally doesn’t matter which direction you look, you are surrounded by majestic, towering red rock formations.
And then the trail takes off again, descending through wide turns.
Bell Rock Pathway is a trunk route that has lots of little off-shoots, and all of those other trails are more difficult. We simply rode it to the end, about 3.5 miles from our strating point, and turned around to retrace our route.
The beauty of this hiking and biking trail is that the views on the way back are completely different than the views on the way out, and the lighting on the rock faces changes constantly.
Riding behind Mark, I couldn’t stop clicking the camera, framing him inside of one magnificent view after another. Holding the camera up and riding one handed is a little dicey, though, and always makes for a rather exilharating ride!
We enjoyed our bike ride on the Bell Rock Pathway so much that we came back to do it again a few days later.
For RV travelers in search of a good way to get out into the Red Rocks without doing a strenuous hike or challenging bike ride, the Bell Rock Pathway is an ideal trail.
Feeling a little rusty bike-wise? It might be time to get back on it again! Two years ago our 76 year old friend Marcel showed us that mountain biking is the Fountain of Youth (blog post here). Now 78, he’s still shredding the gnar out there, and all winter long he’s been mountain biking in Arizona!
More info and links for Sedona’s Bell Rock Pathway below.
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More info about the Bell Rock Pathway:
There are three trail head parking lots, and each one requires a parking pass, either the Red Rock pass or a Federal Interagency Pass (the old “National Park Pass” or Senior Pass). And be sure to get there early, especially on a beautiful sunny weekend.
- US Forest Service description and info for the Bell Rock Pathway
- Trail head parking lots – Location of the three Bell Rock Pathway trail heads on Google Maps
Other posts from our RV travels featuring hikes and bike rides in red rock country:
- Paria Rimrocks “Toadstools” Hike to A Hidden Canyon! 05/25/14
- Wire Pass Trail – Slot Canyon Hiking! 05/22/14
- Sedona Reflections on the West Fork Trail 05/16/14
- Sedona – Mountain biking in the red rocks! 05/13/14
- Red Canyon Utah – An Overlooked Treasure 09/02/11
- Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah – Better Than Bryce? 08/30/11
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