As with most popular trails, once you've hiked a couple miles from the parking area the crowds thin out and the wilderness opens up to those who have earned it.
The Bell Trail in the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness area of the Coconino National Forest is a well-traveled trail in one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state, but don't let that dissuade you.
This is a great trail to run or hike and if you continue to follow it past the usual turn around, it can make a good weekend backpack.
Bell Trail follows Wet Beaver Creek, which sets this day trip up for some great photography or plein air painting. You'll have your water in the foreground and canyon walls and buttes in the background.
Be prepared for high waters after the recent moisture.
To get there head toward Sedona and take the Oak Creek/Sedona exit. Go east on AZ 179 for about half a mile, then take a left on Forest Road 618. Take a left onto Forest Road 656 and stop at the Bell Trail parking lot.
The trail is easy to follow for a little more than 3 miles to Bell Crossing, where most people turn around and head back -- making this a 6.5 mile round-trip hike.
The area can also be reached by taking the Lake Montezuma exit off I-17. This is a longer approach, but affords a look at some of the beautiful scenery of the Verde Valley and a little side trip to the Montezuma's Well park area.
For a complete description of this hike and notes on others nearby, check out "50 Hikes in Arizona" by Martin Tessmer.