Fun trail with a great view and camping at the overlook. We came in from the northern trailhead (not marked on the map here) off A and 2228. Made for a nice, relatively easy hike to the overlook in the afternoon and were able to set up camp. Hiked the rest of the loop, going clockwise back to start. It's a long hike up the hill in the way back north but once you hit the top, the rest seems like a snap back to the trailhead.
Due to flooding on the Ozark trail we decided to go to "higher" ground and ended up at Bell mountain. Started our trip at the A hwy TH. The trail quickly starts to climb but not at an extreme grade, very manageable. When you get to the loop/split go right especially if you are wanting to stay overnight. There are multiple spots to make camp, we opted for one right out on the ridge. The sunrise in the morning is absolutely beautiful, we had a clear, warm morning with dense fog down in the valley. Leaving the ridge you'll continue down before heading west- then south. There are 2 water crossing with good "camp sites" . From there its a looong trek back up to meet up with spur to TH.
If backpacking overnight refer to map and make sure to refill all water containers as there is no other reliable water source until you come off the ridge. Also good luck finding any down trees/wood for a fire on ridge.
Overall it was a great "plan B" and would recommend it.
Not a bad trail to start out on for a first time hike. The trail was well marked for most of the 11.6 miles. With the climbing of the mountain and all of the rocks on the path, I would definitely get prepared for this hike. Overall a great trail!
the trail was awesome but very difficult if you do the entire 12 miles in one day. it can be done but shouldn't. 12 miles may not seem too long for an experienced hiker but I assure you, it will take everything you have to finish. you start at the base of the mountain and it has an elevation climb of about 1,700 feet. You climb the whole 1,700 at least twice from base to peak and also have to descend. So at the very minimum you do at least another mile just in elevation ranges. The trail is not blazed at all which made it confusing in some areas. The view at the peak is absolutely incredible though. There are areas where its difficult to fight through the trail due to it being overgrown in the summer and the bugs/spider webs were absolutely relentless. Wear glasses and a bandana to keep gnats away! They followed us most of the hike, so long that i gave them names!
I would definitely hike this again but it will most assuredly be an overnight.
My all time favorite hike in Missouri - hands down. Took the long route from Highway A for a total of 12.2. Fantastic views at the top and I was glad I had 8 miles down before taking a nice long break at the top. Enjoy this one any route you take up!
Started off at the south trailhead and used the OT for a short bit. The trail has a handful of blazes but is still easy to follow. At a few of the overlooks you can see several cairns left by the artsy hikers. Once I made it to the top, the trail became my favorite in Missouri. Next time I hike the trail I will be camping on it.
Hiked in about 8 miles from the south trail head to the summit and camped, it was about 6 miles out the next day. Trail was groomed and not many rocks to trip over. There were a few hills without switchbacks but nothing too bad. A pretty walk in the woods, there were a few overlooks and rock outcroppings, but nothing spectacular. It hadn't rained in a few days, or maybe weeks, but there was plenty of water in a large creek going in and out, and one or two smaller tributaries. I wouldn't drink the water from the ponds near the summit.
There are two campsites. One is a fire pit in the woods near the summit with no view, the other is a fire pit on an overlook, and there were tons of places to pitch a tent along the ledge in both directions. After setting up camp I climbed around in the rocks a little, the trees thin out near the top so there are interesting little rock strewn meadows with lichen and moss everywhere. Neat place. I met a cute little baby copperhead on a big rock, but surprisingly didn't see or hear many animals.
My second backpacking experience and I loved it! My gf and I did a two day one night hike. The view from the mountain was amazing! We will definitely do it again and camp at the over look. There was a group at the over view when we went so we went back down the mountain and camped by joes creek. Very secluded and scenic. We also went in on the north trailhead which was much easier from what I've heard compared to the south trailhead.
This was a nice trail in early spring, just before everything began to bud. The hike was much easier than I thought, since the rating here is difficult. I would say easy to moderate, not difficult.The woods were very thick with underbrush, and the trail was more like a seasonal stream. The views and the silence were wonderful! Not too many people on the trail though the TH was full with vehicles. Good trek for an easier overnight.
Hiked from the south trailhead on 11/8, spent the night at the summit. It was an unusually warm weekend for November and there were three other groups at the summit overnight. Passed two other groups while hiking the trail. The Joe's creek half of the loop is not as scenic as the bell mountain half, but still very nice. The closest water to the summit is in two small ponds on the side of the trail just north of the summit, maybe 5 mins away at most. Firewood is more plentiful in that directions, also. Kinda scarce right at the top.
I suppose I must be to critical with my lower rating than others. The trail is great for a beginner backpacking trail. Not to strenous, not very rocky compared to many Ozark trails. I am surprized at the difficulty rating. I rate it easy to moderate. I started at the north trailhead and did the loop counter clockwise. It is definately the easier of the two directions. Nice views at the top and the goal of your trip should be to camp at the two existing backpacker camps at the bluff overlook. Really no other good spots. It is 2.5 miles from the trailhead to the first fork (turn right) next fork is the trail from the south trailhead, it is 5.5 miles from the trailhead, (turn left here), and it is 7miles from the trailhead to the bluff campsites.
Great trail to hike and backpack. 3 of us started at the A highway trailhead to hike the entire loop and stay out 2 nights. There is a trailhead sign at the parking area, but it does not reference Bell Mountain. Follow it north and it quickly crosses A highway and starts up the hill. Be prepared for this uphill section, it is rocky and somewhat steep. But you are rewarded at the top with some glades and overlooks. We followed the Ozark Trail until the Bell Mountain cutoff. Then went up another 1/2 mile or so and found a base camp area on the large flat spot that is due west of the tallest peak. This area was well protected, and although we could hear wind in the trees all night long, there was barely a rustling leaf down on the ground. Plenty of wood is down, with lots of dead cedars for kindling. We built a small watch fire both nights. We hiked the entire loop on day 2, returning to our base camp for night 2. We did the loop in a little over 6 hours and had plenty of time to take pictures, eat lunch, and chat with a few others we met on the trail. We did find good water in Joe's Creek. This could have saved us some weight, since we could have pumped water here instead of carrying everything we needed. However, I have read this stream can be dry. We hiked the loop CCW, so the big climb was at the beginning. Next time, we think we will start at the northern trailhead, hike in for an overnight on the peak, and explore the Shut In Creek on the east side. Very enjoyable, fall colors just starting to show, and weather was perfect. Wildlife sightings included a pileated woodpecker and a northern water snake. Trail was very clean, with only a few polluters leaving some refuse behind, which we picked up for them. There are a few rock fire rings on the top, which could be used although the Conservation Department would prefer you to NOT form a ring and to scatter the dead fire afterwards to maintain a sense of wilderness. Enjoy!!
A disc golfer by hobby I skipped a tournament to walk this trail with my son Shannon. We camped near the northern trail head and walked all the way to highway A then we turned around and walked all the way back to the northern trailhead approximately 16 miles N eight and a half hours. Even though you're very sore the next day it was an awesome experience and I think I am hooked.
Michael G. on Bell Mountain Loop Trail
Did this hike as a training hike for our trip to Philmont this summer (2013).
We started at the Hwy A trail head and headed up the mountain. It had rained a fair amount a few days before so there was running water at many of the run offs. We camped just before to the peak over looking the valley. There is not a great source of water here. so bring some or be ready to hike another mile to get water or go down the cliff to a creek to get water. this might take 15 min to get down and 30 to get back up because it is steep.
Mostly, a quiet walk in woods. Work starts at the base of the summit, about 2/3 of the way in. Beautiful vista, well worth the work. Plenty of area for camp at top. Just under 4hours in and out with about an hour at summit resting and taking pics. Did not do the loop.
Two trailheads and a loop in the middle give plenty of options for this hike. I took the southern trailhead and did the loop for a 12.7-mile hike. Will try to upload my gps track as there doesn't seem to be one on alltrails.com. None of the ascents were overly steep but there were a lot of loose rocks on most of the trail. I saw no other hikers but did scare up several deer, squirrels, and turkeys. Even saw a couple pigs and 5-6 piglets. Bring plenty of water!
I have hiked the full 12 mile loop from hwy A trailhead and back, Great hike. The view from the top of bell mountain is gorgeous, and is well worth the trek from hwy A. Very rocky/muddy in some places, and the uphill from hwy A will have the less energetic huffing and puffing, but well worth it for the view. Shut-in creek is a fun place to visit after a good rain, if you don't mind scrambling down a steep grade with boulders to get to it. look for the old mine addit around shut-in creek.