This route to the summit of Bells Cleaver follows the Bells Canyon trail to Upper Bells Canyon Reservoir, followed by routefinding and scrambling up the west slopes and ridge of the peak.
See the main page 'Getting There' section for directions on reaching the trailhead.
One-Way Hiking Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,368 ft.
Average Gain per Mile: 1,193 ft.
Trailhead Elevation: 5,120 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,488 ft.
From the Bells Canyon Trailhead at the north end of the parking area, follow the trail up though a residential area, across a bridge, then up a steep stretch to Lower Bells Canyon Reservoir.
Follow the dirt road which circles around the west and then north sides of the reservoir. About 200 yards beyond the reservoir the Bells Canyon trail leaves the road on the left, marked by a sign.
After leaving the dirt road the trail meanders through brush and scrub oak until it reaches a small bridge over the Bells Canyon stream, approximately 0.5 miles from the lower reservoir.
From the bridge the trail continues east on the south side of the stream for approximately 2 miles, then makes a sharp turn to the right (south). Approximately 100 yards after making the turn south, cross to the east side of the stream on a very primitive bridge constructed of logs and 2x4's (during periods of low runoff the stream may be crossed at a number of other spots as well).
Pick up the trail on the east side of the stream and continue hiking south. From this point onward the trail slowly deteriorates and becomes increasingly difficult to follow. If the trail is lost just continue heading south and upward along the path of least resistance, and eventually either the trail or a periodic cairn should be spotted - do your best, and try to keep the cursing to a minimum.
Approximately 4 miles from the trailhead the Upper Bells Canyon Reservoir will be reached. The reservoir lies in a somewhat steep-walled depression, with Bells Cleaver to the immediate northeast of the reservoir.
Begin routefinding up the west slopes of the peak. A series of cliff bands are located roughly midway up the peak, but there are various spots to breach the cliffs. above the cliff bands make a gradual northward traverse until the west ridge of the peak is reached.
Boulder hop up the ridge, which gradually levels out as the summit is approached. The ridge becomes almost level at the top, with the true high point being at the extreme east end of the ridge.
Standard summer hiking gear for a fairly long hike.
An ice axe and crampons for spring and early summer hikes.
From spring to mid-summer mosquitos and flys in upper Bells Canyon can be savage; don't forget your DEET.