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Bell Pass

Views from Bell pass
on the trail to Bell pass
Barrel cacti
Saguaro on the Bell pass trail
Bell pass trail
map: Bell pass trail
Elevation plot: Bell Pass trail


How to Get There
This hike is located near Scottsdale, AZ.

From the Phoenix area, take state HWY-101 North to the Bell Road exit. Take Bell Road East (right) and take Bell Road until you reach 104th street. The parking area is on the right (North) side.
Phoenix Area and Central Arizona

Hike details

7.00 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
7 miles for the total out and back to Bell Pass
3.00 [Hours]
It took us 3 hours with a 10 minute break at the pass.
Elevation Change
1,300 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 1300 ft gain
Hike Trail Type
Out and Back


Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December
Worst Season
  • July
  • August
Date Hike completed
January 04, 2008


Solitude Details
Average. We shared this trail with between 10 and 20 other hikers.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
Nice views and convenient access from the Phoenix area. This is a Moderate difficulty hike.


Be Aware of
Limited Parking

Hike to bell pass near Scottsdale, Arizona.

This hike is located in the McDowell Mountain preserve area and features an easy to follow trail with clearly signed trail junctions through the Sonoran Desert. The parking area is on the left side (North) of Bell road at the intersection of 104th street. Unfortunately, there is limited parking here. Parking in the desert center lane of Bell road is not recommended, as I have seen automobiles ticketed for doing this. 

From the parking area take the dirt road (closed to vehicle traffic) North about 0.2 miles to the signed junction with the Levee trail (shown as Jct 1 on the map). Turn right onto the Levee trail as the trail turns due East and heads towards Bell Pass. As you walk along the Levee trail, it is easy to see Thompson Peak on the right of the pass and McDowell Peak on the left. The trail is easily followed for the length of this hike, although it can be rocky at times.

After about a mile, you'll reach the junction of the Levee trail and the Paradise trail (Jct 2 on the map). Turn left here onto the Paradise trail and hike another 0.2 miles across a desert wash to the junction with the Gateway Loop trail (Jct 3 on the map). Turn right here, following the signs for Bell Pass. There is one more trail Junction to negotiate (shown as Jct 4 on the map) after about 0.2 miles of hiking. Turn right here, again following the signs for Bell Pass.

Now the route finding is behind us and the climbing begins in earnest. The trail gains elevation gradually for most of the climb, getting steep just before reaching the pass. Take your time here, as falling on the loose rock of this incline would be a bit uncomfortable. Soon your hard work is rewarded, with views of the four peaks to the East and views of Camelback mountain and North Scottsdale to the West.  

The pass is a good place to take a break and soak up the views. When ready, return the way you came.


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