The Bell Pass trailhead is about a half mile (1km) from our condo. From there to the pass is a bit under four miles (6km). The good news is that the first 3-ish miles climb steadily up a valley. The bad news is that one gains about 1000 feet (300 meters) in the last mile. We were happy that the temperature was just above 60f (16c).

You can see Bell Pass in the above photo. It’s the saddle just to the right of the tall Saguaro cactus on the left.

Those of you not familiar with the area might imagine a walk up a valley towards the mountains would include burbling streams, stands of tall trees, perhaps leaping trout. You would be close. Replace the tall trees with Saguaro cactus, delete the streams and trout. We did see any number of lizards and one or two snakes.

A particularly lush and green Ocatillo.
Ocotillo is more closely related to tea and blueberries than to cactuses.
So far as I can tell, this sizable rectangular block came to rest with one end sticking in the air. Years later gravity and erosion caused it to snap in half.
Bell Pass is just above Mary Anne’s head.
This cluster of Fishhook cactus seems to be growing on solid rock.
They had me at “scorpion and rattlesnake”.
Mary Anne takes a look down the other (eastern) side of the pass.
That’s the summit cairn in the foreground.
Looking east.
I think that the settlement in the far distance at the right of the photo is Fountain Hills.
A pretty rock. I liked the black veins.
This gives you some idea of the last mile of the climb. Can you see the two trails? They join up again at the lower end just out of sight. The closer trail is shorter but steeper. The one that disappears over the ridge is a little longer but slightly less steep.
A Jumping Cholla in particularly robust health. Unfortunately.
A Cholla flower.
By the way, it’s pronounced “choya”.


  1. Very Nice! How far (high?) do Jumping Cholla’s jump?
    Is there a cacti Olympics?
    ” . . and one or two snakes.” You had me there, with “any number of lizards!”
    Love, MEB

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