We were a little leary because the Bell Trail to Wet Beaver Creek is listed as one of the most popular hikes in the area and I dislike lots of people around when I hike. But, we figured it was worth a try and got an early start on a weekday. Turns out there was nobody in the parking lot and nobody else on the trail the whole way out. Perfect.
Charles Bell was an Eastern industrialist who came to visit one of the resorts which once lined Beaver Creek. He fell in love with the cowboy lifestyle, bought a ranch and literally threw money at every project you can imagine. The Bell Trail was one of his more grandiose and expensive ideas. None of the ‘locals’ of that era could possibly afford to spend that kind of money blasting a cattle driveway out of Beaver Creek’s sheer cliffs. They drove their herds up existing slopes scattered along the Mogollon Rim. But in 1932 Bell built a trail for his cattle. Thanks Mr. Bell.
For most of the way this is an easy hike on a good path. That changes the last mile or so when it gets rocky and has some steeper pitches. The trail follows the creek for the most part and this time of year there was plenty of color with the Arizona Sycamores still changing colors. The gentle rush of the stream calms away all your worries (maybe). And then we spooked a javelina who came charging across the trail and running down to the river.
As you make your way up the canyon the walls get rockier and sandstone formations rise up on the sides. It a fabulous view and gets better as you go. “The Crack” at the end of the trail is a big swimming hole that is picture perfect. We hiked around to get all the angles and I even waded in to cool off. Lots of people cliff jump here but I did not. It hurts me ears. This is where I am thrilled that we had the place to ourselves because I’m told it can get crowded with a party like atmosphere. Uhg.
On our way back out we passed a few groups who were heading to the crack and rejoiced in our fortune. It looked like there would be about a dozen people up there all at once. Having hiked it, I can see why the trail is popular.