March 2016 – We really enjoyed mountain biking the Bell Rock Pathway during our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, and one day we got chatting with young neighbors in an RV nearby about where the good mountain biking and hiking spots were around Sedona. They knew the area really well and asked if we’d ever been to The Crack at Wet Beaver.
Mark raised an eyebrow.
“No, no, not that!” They said. “It’s a really cool gorge on Wet Beaver Creek. It’s a great hike, and if you take your bathing suits you can swim there!”
The next morning dawned sunny and warm, so we took off on the Bell Trail to hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness to find this infamous Crack.
The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell who built the trail in 1932 for moving cattle, and a sign at the trailhead indicates it is still used for that purpose today. It is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to The Crack. The trail goes deeper into the Wilderness, but we figured 7 miles out and back was plenty for one day.
At the beginning, we hiked through open grasslands and under a canopy of trees alongside Wet Beaver Creek. After about two miles, we came across a red rock cliff soaring into the sky with a tree on top.
For the next mile or so we walked through gorgeous red rock scenery as the trail hung onto the edges of bright orange hillsides and zig-zagged under exotic red rock formations.
We were hiking in the morning, and the sun felt good on our skin, but later in the day this desert landscape would become very hot.
We could hear the sound of rushing water ahead of us, and soon we saw the creek splashing noisily over river rocks to our right. What a nice spot for a picnic!
The whole area was filled with leafless deciduous trees that must bring true magic to the landscape in the fall. And what a great spot to do some flowing water photography!
We hiked just a little futher on and suddenly the landscape opened up to massive shelves of boulders stepping down to sheer cliffs that plunged into the water below. This was The Crack!
Our friends had described crystal clear water that was a lovely shade of blue, but the creek was running fast from the snow melt and had swelled so much that lots of debris had been stirred up as the water tumbled down from the mountains. The water was murky and filled with foam from the crashing waterfalls upstream.
This made for some neat slo-mo photos!
The Crack is a stunning spot that is so unexpected in the dry dusty desert.
The huge flat boulders are really inviting, and we scrambled around on them for quite a while.
We had the place to ourselves. Other than the distant sound of rushing water, it was quiet and still.
I ventured out onto a cool looking precipice hanging out over the water and Mark got my photo.
Suddenly, we heard voices coming down the trail. Two young couples appeared and set up beach towels right on that same rock precipice I’d been standing on and then stripped down to their bathing suits to get a tan.
“Are you going to jump in?” One girl in a bikini asked me.
I looked down at the murky water doubtfully. Diving into the its depths had not been on my agenda today!
Then, I watched in amazement as she made her way down to a lower rock and jumped in. Brrr!! Then the other girl did the same.
“The water’s great!” They yelled out to me.
Well, I was happier taking photos of them than swimming, so I let them have all the fun in the water while I stayed warm and dry on shore.
They debated jumping off the rock precipice where they’d laid their beach towels, but because they couldn’t see the bottom — which they said you usually can — they decided not to. You never know what kind of submerged log might be lurking just below the surface.
The bathing beauties climbed out of the water using a rope that someone had secured in the rock, and they settled in on their beach towels for a while.
We left them and began to make our way back along Bell Trail. The trail had gotten really busy, and we were amazed that the silence of the early morning was completely gone now, shattered by the continual voices and footsteps of other hikers making their way to The Crack on this warm Friday afternoon.
A snort and a whinny up ahead alerted us to horseback riders coming down the trail. What a neat sighting at the end of a very enjoyable hike.
If you spend some time in Sedona, whether you travel there by RV or some other means, a hike on Bell Trail to The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek is a really nice change of pace. More info and links below.
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More info about Bell Trail and The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek:
- US Forest Service Trail Info – Description of the Bell Trail hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness
- Trailhead Parking Lots – Locations of two parking areas that access Bell Trail in relation to Sedona AZ
Other fun hiking and biking trails we’ve found in our RV travels:
- Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads in Maine – Thanks, Rockefeller! 07/07/15
- New River Trail State Park – Galax, VA – Pizza, Beer and Biking! 06/12/15
- The Wind Cave Hike in Phoenix AZ – The Hills are Alive! 03/13/14
- Natural Bridges National Monument & Utah’s Bicentennial Highway 06/15/12
- Northern Idaho – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes 08/23/07
More posts from our RV adventures in Sedona, Arizona:
- Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike! 05/31/19
- Hiking the “Pig Trails” in Sedona, AZ – Breathtaking! (oink oink!) 05/17/19
- Top Sedona AZ Hikes: Little Horse to Chicken Point + Templeton Trail (Cathedral Rock)! 05/03/19
- Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona! 04/26/19
- Jerome, Arizona – A New Year’s Getaway in the Snow! 01/04/19
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