A common misconception about the desert is that there is no water to play in. Surprise! There is water, you just have to work a little harder to get to it is all.
So what do you do in the summer when the Arizona temperatures rise dreadfully high?
Hunt for swimming holes!
One of the best to visit is The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek. This Arizona swimming hole is a popular destination for families and adrenaline seekers alike. The creek cuts through the rock forming the perfect, deep crack for jumping and swimming.
In this post I’ve included all the trail details you’ll need in order to find The Crack and enjoy an adrenaline filled jump into the cold mountain water.
HIKING TO THE CRACK STATS
Distance: 7 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 580 ft.
Type: Out and Back
Location: Rimrock, AZ
Trailhead: Bell Trail
Dog Friendly: Yes
Note: If you hike from the overflow parking lot and embark on the Bruce Brockett Trail to intersect to the Bell Trail, your hike will be more around 7.5 miles total.
DIRECTIONS TO THE CRACK AT WET BEAVER CREEK
If you’re heading from Phoenix you’ll find yourself on I-17 for the majority of the drive. You’ll take exit 298 to Forest Service Road 618. Turn right and a few miles later the small parking lot for Bell Trail will be on the left.
If that lot is full, you’ll have to backtrack up the road a little ways to the overflow parking which is a huge dirt lot. This is a bit out of the way from the main trailhead, so you’ll be taking the connecting trail, Bruce Brockett, to intersect the Bell Trail (colored orange, below).
Below is a screenshot of the track I did when I visited. I had to park and hike from the overflow lot which ended up being more around 7.5 miles round trip. The orange is if you were embarking from the main trailhead, Bell Trail.
Preparation saves lives. Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app.
You can download my Crack at Wet Beaver Creek track and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty devise for ease of mind!
WHEN TO VISIT THE CRACK + SAFETY
If you plan on swimming you’ll probably want to hike when it is warm enough to swim. I’d say spring, summer, and early fall or May-September are usually good times to swim at The Crack.
Of course with heat comes risk of heat stroke which is to be taken seriously in the desert. Be sure to pack plenty of water and sun gear such as a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
This hike is completely exposed to the sun so if you hike during extreme heat you’re doing so at your own risk and it is not recommended. Instead, strategize the times of when you’ll begin and end your hike.
Summer is also Arizona’s monsoon season which can cause flash floods. Always check the weather of the area as well as surrounding areas before going and be aware of the risk.
CAUTION: This hike does get too hot for dogs. PLEASE do not bring them in the middle of summer or on extreme hot days. I’ve seen too many overheating on this trail and there is not much water access during the hike for them.
Expect to share the swimming hole with others for this is a popular destination despite the hike required, especially on weekends! It is best to get a very early start to secure parking and beat the heat on the hike in.
WHAT TO BRING ON THE HIKE
My Packing List
- Day Hiking Backpack
- 10 Essentials
- Hat and/or sunscreen
- Hiking shoes
- 1 gallon of water
- Water shoes / Crocs
- Swim suit and towel
- Lightweight floating tube
As on any hike you should already be packing the 10 essentials. This usually includes sunglasses and sunscreen but I always like to mention these items separately especially in the desert for extra emphasis.
You’ll want something to protect yourself from the sun. There is some shade at the swimming hole but the trail along the way leaves you exposed to the sun.
Rangers in the area suggest at least 1 gallon of water per person for this hike since it is usually done in hotter temperatures. I couldn’t agree more!
HIKING TO THE CRACK SWIMMING HOLE
As mentioned previously, the trail you want to embark on to get to The Crack is the Bell Trail. However, the small parking lot fills up fast so you may be forced to park in the overflow parking lot. Instead, you’ll begin on the Bruce Brockett Trail to intersect the Bell Trail. This will add about 1/2 mile to your overall out and back hike.
When my friends and I last visited we had to park in the overflow parking lot. You’ll see signs for it just before you reach the main parking lot- super easy to find! Don’t be surprised if there are park rangers present on the weekends to manage the parking and give trail advice. They’ll most likely warn you to have at least 1 gallon of water with you.
We found the Bruce Brockett Trail very easily and began our hike to The Crack!
The hike to The Crack is relatively flat with only a few spots of elevation gain. There aren’t many water access points or shaded spots along Bell Trail so it was a bit dreadful at times paired with the heat. You’ll come to a couple intersections with other trails along the way, but the signage is very easy to follow so just stay on the Bell Trail.
After roughly 3.5-3.75 miles you’ll hike up onto a large exposed rock area. If you look down you’ll see The Crack where you jump off into! We chose to cut down into the creek just before The Crack and set up camp in the shade next to some swimming holes. There are several areas you can jump off into The Crack. There is even a log that connects one side to the other. You can jump off of the log or walk across to the other side and jump off those rocks.
Once you get your fill of jumps into the cold mountain water you’ll head back the way you came.
Be mindful of when you arrive and plan to leave The Crack. If you hike back during the afternoon it could be extremely hot and dreadful, especially after a half day of swimming. Many people were wetting towels before leaving and putting them over their heads to keep cool!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SWIMMING AT THE CRACK
On a hot day the hike to The Crack can be dreadful especially if you don’t get an early start, but the swimming hole is refreshing and exciting since there are plenty of rocks to jump off of into the deep pools below.
The area does get very crowded during the summer so if you’re looking for a remote place to hangout this won’t be it.
Regardless if you mind people or not, I think it is a destination you should visit at least once to experience a true Arizona swimming hole!
As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.
More in Sedona:
- Hiking A.B. Young Trail to East Pocket (Edge of the World)
- How to find Soldier Pass Cave- Sedona, AZ
- Hiking Cathedral Rock: All you need to know
- Hike to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona