Best Western PLUS Inn of Sedona
Sedona Hikes – Bell Rock Pathway
By: Lisa Peters
One of my favorite hikes in Sedona, Arizona would have to be Bell Rock Pathway. This trail takes you on a scenic journey of the red rocks with panoramic views that can’t be beat. I heard about the trail work that had been done recently and decided to take an early morning hike and check it out. I am happy to say, it is still one of my favorite Sedona hikes. The improvements to the surface of the trail made the hike even more enjoyable.
The Pathway is about 7 miles round trip and it is important to remember it is not a loop. Keep that in mind while you are enjoying your hike and remember you have to hike back the distance you go in. I personally enjoy hiking the entire pathway, but I do it at a pace much slower than most, I love to stop and take pictures, watch any wildlife I come across and just relax and let the stress of my work week melt away. I can easily turn this 2 ½ hour hike into a 3-4 hour journey.
You do not have to hike the entire pathway to enjoy some great views of the red rocks. As soon as you walk the first 10-15 minutes in, you will be close enough to feel the energy of Bell Rock. I find myself stopping often, on different parts of the pathway, just to take in the views of both the red rocks and the flora. One of my favorite places to take a break, rehydrate and shoot some photos is about 30-35 minutes in (my hiking time, I am an easy paced hiker). You come across a wide flat rock outlook that offers you a panoramic view of the red rocks of Sedona. To see the brilliant blue of the sky with the rustic red rock jutting into it is simply breathtaking, A lot of people will make that point the end of the hike, but if you have the energy to hike a little further it is well worth it. You never know what surprises await you around the corner. On this recent hike I spent a good 20 minutes watching some very vocal Western Scrub Jays argue amongst themselves (at least that’s what it looked like to me). There were also a few hummingbirds checking out some of the wildflowers that were still in bloom on the pathway, and as always there were plenty of lizards for my hiking companion to check out.
As you see Bell Rock fading behind you, new formations come into view. There are a lot of dry beds and a few short bridges that cross them; a great view of submarine rock and when you get close to the end you will catch a glimpse of the Chapel of the Red Rocks in the distance. If you make it that far, take a moment to stop at the trailhead and rest for a moment so you can truly appreciate the views as you head back to Bell Rock. I guarantee if you take this hike you will not be disappointed and will come back over and over again.
This hiking trail is marked as easy to moderate and there are other paths and trails that lead off of the Pathway that offer more of a challenge for experienced hikers.
- A red rock pass is needed to park at trailheads. All types of passes are available, from day use to yearly passes. Daily and weekly passes are available from a vending machine right at the trail-head.
- This hike is marked easy to moderate, however from personal experience, if you are a novice hiker like I am, watch your pace and go in knowing there are some strenuous inclines.
- Make sure to bring water. Even if you are only hiking a short distance, hydration is key. Take more than you think you will need.
- Create a hiking backpack that includes water, first aid kit, a protein snack, and a trail map.
- Don’t leave the trail. The ecosystem of the desert is fragile and leaving even a footprint can damage it.
- Biking is also allowed on this trail, share the trail and show mutual respect of space.
- Bring a camera to take some amazing shots.
- Wear suitable clothing and shoes for hiking.
- Know your limitations.
- There is no rushing this hiking experience. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.