Dogies Hike Wet Beaver/Bell Trail
The sun was out, the sky was blue and after a week of inclement weather and cancelled hikes, the Dogie group of the Sedona Westerners was eager to get back on the trail. The Dogies hike on Tuesdays and the scheduled hike was the Wet Beaver/Bell Trail.
The leaders were Mickey Gershtenson and Marion Hadji-Agha with Tom Blecha and Jack Leahy volunteering to be tailgaters. Gershtenson announced that the hike would be about seven miles in length with a moderate elevation gain of 600 feet.
The beginning of the trail follows an old jeep road so it is broad, open and relatively flat. It is above and parallel to Wet Beaver Creek so the sound of flowing water could be heard along the way. There are patches of prickly pear cactus and agave lining the trail with an occasional purple prickly pear catching the eye. Most of the vegetation lacks much color at this time of year but the recent moisture promises a colorful display of wildflowers this spring.
The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell, a wealthy man from the East, who came to the Beaver Creek area as a guest at one of the dude ranches that operated here from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. Charles bought a ranch and developed the trail in 1932 as a way to move his cattle to the top of the Mogollon Rim in the spring.
The hikers continue on the trail for about two miles, many commenting that it is not as muddy as they had anticipated. At this point, the group enters the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness and the canyon begins to narrow. The trail veers left and the ascent onto a red rock bench that follows the canyon wall begins. Soon the hikers reach a section of slick rock known as Burnt Basin Tank Overlook and stop for a snack break. This area is high above the creek and the group enjoys scenic views of the riparian streambed, canyon, and surrounding mountains and valleys.
Gershtenson reminded everyone that they would encounter two minor rock falls as they continued along the trail. The hikers proceeded cautiously staying close to the sandstone wall as each person stepped around the rock falls safely.
Before long the trail began to descend and the hikers were rewarded with a picturesque area of slick rock just above the creek to enjoy lunch. Gershtenson pointed out a rock there that forms what is known as the “Tongue of the Beaver” or “The Crack”. The “tongue” is a part of the rock that juts out over the creek and the “crack” is formed by the narrow space between the “tongue” and the canyon wall.
After a restful break, the hikers packed up for the return. After only a short distance, the leaders took a side trail going down to Bell Crossing. At the creek edge an abandoned cooler was found. Charlie Paterson, a 20 year old new member on his first hike with the Westerners volunteered to take it out. He carried the 20 pound cooler 3.5 miles all the way back to the dumpster at the Beaver Creek Ranger Station near the trailhead! This good deed definitely fulfills an important purpose of the Sedona Westerners to appreciate and preserve this beautiful area.
The Westerners always welcome new members! If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website www.sedonawesterners.org. You may also join by attending the next monthly meeting which will be on Thursday, March 11th, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley.