This trail has 4 parts/trails to it. We ended up hiking all but 1. All trails are nicely marked except for the White trail. I loved the Devils Back Bone on the white trail and recommend walking to it and just turning right back around to avoid the poorly marked portion of the trail. The yellow trail has the best rock formation with a rock wall ladder that isn't for the faint of heart. Nice trail overall.

Absolutely gorgeous hike. However the trails aren't very well marked and easy to lose. We started on the blue trail and had to back track several times. Towards the end the blue trail requires you to cross the river on some rocks but there was nothing telling you that was the way to go and we ended up continuing onto the yellow trail and then the white trail which stops out of nowhere. We got a bit lost for several hours and went in a few big circles before we got back to the rocks in the river and went across which leads you to the huge stone stairs back to the parking lot. Wouldn't have been a big deal if it hadn't gotten dark before we found our way out. Definitely be prepared and bring a flashlight.


on Bell Smith Springs Trail

3 months ago

I enjoyed this trail. Had to duck inside a cave to escape a few passing rainshowers but that was about it. Trail is marked well in some areas, not so well in others. If I had not missed the trail and "gone rogue" I never would have seen the family of river otters. That was a fun site indeed.
(hiked this in late March or early April of 2016)

Trail leads a local swimming hole with a nice jumping spot, but beyond that was difficult to follow and somehow we never found the "loop" and ended up doubling back after reaching a sign that said trail not maintained beyond this point.

very beautiful!

Relatively easy climb up with benches along the way. Interesting history!

9 months ago

Walked this in November 2015. The trail goes steadily up for a short distance, with wooden stairs at the top, As you walk along the top of the bluff, there are signboards describing the house foundations and stone-lined graves. There is also a platform to view the faint petroglyphs. An interesting walk.

High bluffs, boulder falls, natural bridge are just a few of the high lights these trails offer. Decent in distance.....however found some of the trails poorly marked. Never lost but had to backtrack a bit to keep moving forward.

This trail was marked with blue and yellow arrows. The entrance to the trail begins with a steep rock staircase which leads to the blue spring water creek. At the bottom of the rock staircase, we went right and hiked on some hilly and rocky trail for about a mile and a half, but ended up turning around and hiking back. We then took the left side of trail and hiked for about a half a mile until we got really wet crossing a stream and headed back. It was a great time spent on a Sunday afternoon.

Great wilderness area near Ozark, IL that should be a State Park, but thankfully is not to keep the crowds down. Numerous overlooks of the canyon with rushing water, deep blue pools and large bluffs and boulders throughout. Some of the trail requires creek crossing which may require wet feet. All in all, one of the best trails in Southern IL.

cross country skiing
1 year ago

Beautiful hike. Did the white diamond and loved it!!

A lot of childhood memories here. There is a natural arch, a lot of water depending on season. Devil's Backbone is a great place. Springs to swim in. Nice camping area as well. Bluffs, and rock overhangs. A lot of bouldering could be done. In the old days there was rappelling that was allowed.

2 years ago

Can't say enough about this little gem! It's by far the most beautiful trail ice hiked so far in southern Illinois Shawnee National Forest. To find it go south out of Harrisburg, IL on hwy 34/145 to delwood. Stay on Hwy 145 south until u see sign for Bell Smith Springs. Follow this rd and the signs to Bell Smith Springs. We started on trail to far left down to the natural arch until we discovered the white diamond trail. It was a tough intense trail but ended with a sign that the white diamond trail was not maintained beyond this point about 1 hour in so we turned around crossed stream and checked out the natural arch then back up to the parking lot. 2 hour hike total and I felt it! Going to return to check out 3 other trails there as well as a spot called burden falls.