I love a good “day trip”!
One of the best parts of living on the north side of Phoenix is how many fantastic places you can get to within a few hours drive. And one of my favorites and likely unknown (even to many “locals”) trails to hike is Bell Trail.
The trail is not for everyone. This is easily a moderate+ hike due to its length (~12 miles round trip), exposure and elevation changes. It is also best to do when it start to get warm, but I’m getting ahead of myself. You will definitely want at least a gallon of water per person. More if you do not want to get wet (spoiler).
The trail head is located only a few minutes east off of the I-17 (west takes you to Sedona), and you definitely want to be there early as it has limited parking. The trail meanders parallel the Wet Beaver Creek, which for most of the time, you can only tantalizingly hear from within the canyon as you ascend well away and above it.
But the end goal is well worth the effort. And this is also why it is better as summer is near or upon us, unless you are big fans of “shrinkage” from the icy water generated by snow runoff in the spring.
Important note: We watched many people miss the swimming hole as the trail cuts short of if an takes you across the creek. If you see the below, turn back up to the trail and continue along the rock face. You will likely hear people enjoying the “jump” and will lead you to it.
And across the river there is a pretty steep trail that will take you to a great view of the canyon.