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I must be a terrible hiker. People on here claim to start at the Bell Mountain Wilderness (Highway A) and get to the peak (Taum Sauk) in 6 hours with 30lbs packs and what have you. Bell Mountain to Taum Sauk is a 30 mile trail. That's 10 minute miles. Plan ahead and give yourself some time. It took us about 14-15 hours to complete across two days. Saw some boars, very pretty waterfall, amazing viewpoints. Everything you can need to know about this trail is located on the OzarkTrail website.

1 day ago

This is a really enjoyable hike. The overall hike is challenging not only in length but in terrain. For perspective I am 55 but in good shape. I have recently completed a triathlon and two half marathons in the last year.

I started from the highway A trailhead on the Ozark Trail. There is an initial climb with several switchbacks as you climb the trial is very rocky. I had trekking poles which I found to be essential. You climb about 1.5 miles until you hit the bell mountain trial. The trial continues to be uphill and rocky for another.7 mile when the trial starts to go through a wooded area. At about a mile on the bell mountain trial you come to the loop. At this point you can choose to go clockwise or counter clockwise. Counter clockwise is a much longer hike about 8 miles to the best camping sites on the mountain. You will reach Joe’s creek at about 3 miles. This is the best water source by far. There are several access points over a mile or so. If you go clockwise when you reach the loop the hike to the best camping is much easier. About 4 miles with limited hills to climb. There is a small pond before the camping on the mountain and another about 1/2 mile past the camping area. I used that one. Not as clear as joes creek but fine with a good filter. The view from my camping spot was awesome. There are a lots of sites to choose. I went on a Thursday night in March. There were two campers on the entire mountain.

Couple of things to note. I saw post where people said they did the entire loop in 4.5 hours. I made pretty good time and did not take long breaks and it took me 9.5 hours total including the 1.5 miles on the Ozark trial each day. Also watch for the Orange ribbons that mark the loop. If you go clockwise there is an orange ribbon the marks the loop trial at about 5.5 mile. Follow the loop to left with orange ribbon. if you go straight will take you to north Bell trailhead.

Hiked the “Low Water Trail” in 3/14:18 and it was muddy...but fun! The middle part of this trail (which follows along the Meramec) is mostly flat and at this time of the year is bug-free.

9 days ago

Great hike! A little over 10 miles, completed it in 4 hours. Had some pretty decent inclines. Lots of creek access for the dogs. Will come back in cool weather.

The bald Knob has an awesome view, everything else on the trail is just a long stroll through the woods. Don’t waste your with the loop unless you are doing it for the exercise.

19 days ago

My husband and I hiked this trail last summer and it was a great experience! Definitely a rugged trail, and any visitors should be fully prepared with water and water filtration systems if they're planning on a longer trek. The views were worth any difficulties!!! We were also surprised by several cleared campsites along the way that weren't on the MO State Parks map.

I did Bell Mountain Wilderness to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. This portion of my trip was absolutely beautiful! It was rocky, rugged, and steep; give yourself plenty of time. I planned to camp here; it took me 6.5 hours to finish this portion with a 30lb pack. I recommend doing this in the fall, winter, or early spring as there will be some overgrown areas. Ketcherside Mountain had some amazing views. Please leave no trace!!

Beautiful area, we had the entire summit to ourselves for the night a few months back.

30 days ago

We started counterclockwise on the South Loop. Not very scenic, no overlooks. Continued onto the North Loop and there were some more scenic areas there around the little creeks and some small waterfalls after it rained. Several steep, butt kicking hills but good if you are looking for a bit of a workout.

Completed the entire loop in 4.5 hours. Was going to camp, but Mother Nature ruined that:) I saw numerous bear paw prints, feral pig tracks and deer tracks. Could have sworn i heard an elk bugle, but maybe my mind was playing tricks on me

Very pretty hike. Meadows, pineforest, creeks, remnants of old abandoned cabins, small ponds. Good stuff.

Nice relaxing trail. Not the most scenic, but still enjoyable. My GPS read 10.75 mile with 1635 ft of elevation gain. The trail was rutted in places due to horse traffic.

Great trail! Diverse terrain and well marked.

Very muddy today but a good hike.

Beautiful hiking !! Nice people an great for dogs also!!!

It's pretty hard if you aren't a habitual hiker, but the bald knob is worth every step and drop of sweat.

The first three miles are uphill and rocky, the next 3 or 3 1/2 miles are flat river valley. Not bad at all when one is fresh, but that last three miles on the way back are pretty rugged if one is not expecting it.

Very steep at the entrance by Lone Elk Park and the exit off Lewis Rd. In between it's beautiful and winding with lots of views of the river. Some areas are technical, especially on a mountain bike.

This is my absolute favorite trail in the St. Louis Area. The elevation gain is sufficient for hikers who like a challenge. The environment changes from rocky flint hilltops to low grassy prairie in the Meramec floodplain then down further to the river basin itself. The eastern section of the loop is the Flint Quarry Trail. Along this trail there are small bowls and trenches dug out all along the trail and surrounding area, these are the remnants of prehistoric quarries cut by indigenous people. The flint was used for tools by those people and is the highest concentration of prehistoric mines in North America.

For more history of the area check out this webpage below the author provides a vary detailed timeline of Lone Elk, Times Beach, Tyson Valley, West Tyson and Crescent Hills.


Very rocky. I have no idea how people bike this trail! lol

Easy switchbacks lead to a fairly flat, wooded mountaintop. Beautiful lichen, and gorgeous rock formations. Saw a lot of scat on the way up and saw 3 wildhogs as we did the last, intense half of the loop. They left us alone. Not sure I'd do it as a day hike again - just not that cool of views. Took us 5.5 hours, but was brutally cold that day.

Beautiful trails and definitely worth it. Not good for the winter months due to the creek crossing and if you have a dog, the shooting range isn’t great, especially if they’re jumpy. Guns were literally shooting the entire time we were hiking.

Good scout trail

Great scout trail for hiking.

Completed the full trail in early December. The scenery was great, but the two issues I have with this area is the poor signage and the number of people who bring their dogs that aren't on leashes. Every time I bring my dog hiking, she's on a leash. During our most recent trip to this trail we encountered two groups of people who didn't have their dogs on a leash, one of which tried to attack my dog. If you're considering doing this trail, be prepared to deal with careless dog owners and minimal signage marking the trail.

The distance of the full loop including the approach is 10 miles.

Nice hike with some great hills!

I would like to second what Matt Hodel said (note: he's one of the people responsible for us making it off the trail alive this past weekend). Posts on here indicating that this hike takes less than 6 hours were misleading and nearly got us killed. If Matt and his buddy, Eric, had not been on the trail, the ending would have been very different.

I'm not personally in bad shape (though I could stand to lose 20 lbs), and by "not in bad shape" I mean that I lead a hiking group, do several 7+ mile hikes a month, and did a half marathon a month all last year —but this trail really kicked my backside.

When I read the under 6 review on here (and I'm not disputing that you did it, just saying that's not the norm for this trail), I did the math, and "it checked out" — our group hiking speed is a 24 min mile. But this trail is not your average hiking trail — it's littered with rocks, ankle-turners, almost throughout — I would say that 80% of the trail is being generous. And when you add to that, that the leaves had just fallen and it was drizzling, that's really going to slow you down.

So, based on calculations, we thought we would be off the trail in daylight, in 51° weather. Instead, we were still 2+ miles from the summit, at the most treacherous part of the trail, with one headlamp for every two people.

We had sent our 2 fastest hikers on to the summit with one of the radios, and between that and spotty cellphone connection, we were able to get ahold of rangers and keep warm around Matt & Eric's fire until we were rescued.

We started at 10:30 am, reached the power lines (the mid-way point) around 2:30 pm, where we ate lunch, sunset was approx 4:48 pm (with last light at 5:16 pm), we reached Matt & Eric's camp at 6:40 pm, were able to get through to rangers by 7:45 pm, were rescued at 8:30 pm, and made it back up to the top front country camping area by about 10:30 pm.

The ranger said that it's a 12 hour hike, and the State Park website even posits 14.5 hours, although it also lists the trail as being 14.5 miles.

All this is just to give a cautionary view, so that no one else comes here to find info, and gets in a predicament like we did. It's a beautiful, must-see area — just be wise. This is a point to point trail — once you start, there are no quick exits — you must go all the way to one end or the other.

3 months ago

There are some very impressive reviews of hikers doing this section in under 6 hours. If you want to get someplace fast, drive.

This section of the trail has a duration recommendation of 14.5 hours. (https://mostateparks.com/trails/taum-sauk-mountain-state-park)

I️ think a healthy hiker that stops to enjoy lunch and take in a few views would be closer to 10 hours. If you are not conditioned to rugged hiking, you may use every bit of 14 hours.

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