backpacking
11 days ago

backpacking
1 month ago

From HWY A I hiked clockwise up the west side of the mountain and past the northern trailhead. The hike is strenuous but can be done with time. There was a small river that had a some water in it after a little bit of rain. The views from the eastern side of the mountain are amazing! I highly encourage you to look for more campsites than what was on top. Me and my partner went farther to the right and down and found a spot with a fire pit that had a rock wall behind it and we were warm the entire night all the way down to 24F. Overall great hike and good experience for someone that is new to backpacking.

FROM HWY A / OZARK TRAILHEAD

Parked in the Ozark Trailhead HWY A parking lot @ about 11 am. 2 other cars in were in the parking lot but never saw on person the whole 11 (+/-) miles of hiking. The first .5-1.0 are switchbacks with decent vertical gain which could be significantly shortened with bushwacking. I chose not to bushwack as this was my first time on the trail and I had a female friend with me who had (like i) not a whole lot of hiking experience. At the top of these switch backs we were gifted with a nice overview of the valley facing (northwest?) with only small marks of human development in our view. The next 1 to 1.5 mile followed a ridgeline with several optimal lookouts facing (southwest?) before tailing into a beautiful forest. 'Shortly' after walking into the forest we came to a fork, where there is the option to go left onto the connector path towards the Bell Mountain Loop or straight on the Ozark Trail. We turned left and continued walking through the forest, walking by a small pond to the right and then continuing on for a 1-1.5 miles further until we came across another apparent fork with a small sign with '88'. Assuming this was the beginning of the Bell Mountain Loop I turned right. IF this is the fork, which im still unsure of, then left should take one clockwise around the loop, dropping down to Joe's Creek before winding up to the summit. We turned right and walked about a mile before coming upon more evidence of camp sites and small splotches of rock outcroppings..After these first small off-trails, campsites and boulders the trail will begin to parallel the rock outcroppings on the summit of Bell Mountain. There were many prominent off-trails towards the summit, but it seems the actual trail only leads next to the summit. At around 2 pm we took the first "really" obvious off trail and walked into a magnificent view to the east overlooking shut in creek and the orange, yellow, red & still green trees of Missouri's fall season. The rocky Summit Sits some 50-60 feet prominent to the immediate less-rocky valley below, and probably several hundred feet above shut in creek. We set up shop on top of one of the biggest boulders, relaxed, played music, climbed around and enjoyed the beautiful colors. We ventured further down the trail past the rock outcroppings and down towards joe's creek for almost a mile before deciding the summit was the masterpiece of the mountain... at least for that day. We started our decent around 4:30 and reached the ridgeline lookouts facing (southwest?) by the time the sun began to set at 6 ish. We got a decent spot and watched the sunset. This was one of the more remarkable, rawest missouri sunsets ive ever seen. The sun was fully set by 645 and by 7 the stars had taken over the sky. We hustled down the trail, without using our light because that only seemed to make it harder, constantly hoping and wondering if we had wondered off trail. I have read about people complaining that the Bell Mountain Trails can be poor marked. During the day this was not the case. But at night it became decently hard to discern the trail, especially with all of the leaves from autumn. Luckily we never got lost and made it back the car by 745. The parking lot had 5-6 cars and 2 campsites set up with big fires and happy, jolly people. Thought it was pretty cool that we did not see one person on the trail all day (granted, it was a monday).


Great hike, really enjoyed. Certain parts of the trail are very rocky with the perfect size stones to roll your ankles on. Level 1 hiking all the way, but there are some parts with steady incline that coaxed me into a hard sweat on several occasions. Hiking boots wouldnt be a bad idea. The summit is a beautiful view, with the only sign of human involvement being a large (reservoir?) to the (southeast?). The Stars are phenomenal. If you plan to do this hike please, please, please respect our beautiful earth enough to pick up after yourself. It was discouraging to be in a remote public land like Bell and still find a good amount of human trash. Especially the beer bottles at the summit. 5/5 hike deserves to be kept pristine. Could have been done in much quicker time, but consistently took short breaks and sidetracks. Would like to run it sometime.

Look, everyone has described this in every way possible. I'm just gonna say that it's worth your time and I would never bs you on that because time is the one thing each and every single one of us has and no one can afford to waste. If you can keep up a pace of 2.5mph, you're good in a half day. If you're not in great shape, just plan on making a day event out of it. There are plenty of places to sit and take a load off for a bit. Anytime you start a hike early it gives you more options. Enjoy it. Always take plenty of water, take you a snack once you reach what you are going to see, and just take a little bit to take it in. You're in Southeast Missouri and it truly is one of the best hidden treasures on earth.

hiking
2 months ago

backpacking
2 months ago

We started at the north Bell trailhead and hiked to Hwy A trail head. About 8.4 miles. Hiking with me was my wife and 3 kids - 10, 10 and 9. We got a late start. Began about 3:30 in the afternoon. Made it to the top of Bell mountain at about 5:00. Set up camp and cooked supper. Watched an amazing sun set while we ate. Next day, packed up, back on trail by 9:15. Done by 12:00. We had 3 kids so we took our time. Did some side exploring. Very dry. We actually ran out of water before the end. Only water source we found was nearly dried up horse pond which we could have used but didn't need to. It's a fun hike with kids. Great views.

backpacking
2 months ago

Hiked in with the girlfriend and dog. Was pretty warm that day, so we stayed on the south path and hiked straight to the summit. That was just under 5 miles. Hiked out the same way the next morning. It did seem like it was a slow and steady climb up, not too hard (the out of shape dog hated us). Like others have mentioned, if you want the best camping spot, get there early. There were 2 other groups of 4 when we got up there. There are quite a few fire rings up at the top for your camp. Views are awesome up top, and campsites are spread out enough you won't hear the other campers. Also, as others have said, fill up your water at Joe's Creek, not great water sources on the path we took. The other watering holes had lots of signs of pigs. I don't care how good my water filter is, water from a hog wallow is not for me. So we had to conserve our water. Other than that awesome hike. Will come back and do the whole trail when it cools off.

Could have been spectacular but had trouble finding trail and went down wrong one before realizing it was across the street from the parking lot. Went counterclockwise on the loop which brings you to the summit sooner. Continued with the loop, ended up on an off shout trail going the opposite direction ( not marked) thank goodness for alltrails app. Got back on right trail but lost it on the other side of the creek. Ended up following the creek to hwy A. Exhausting. Sunrise was nice but not worth the poison ivy I got from traipsing through the woods due to poorly marked/maintained trails

backpacking
3 months ago

Hiked in Friday afternoon and back out Saturday morning with my sister and brother-in-law. We couldn't have asked for better weather and we basically had the summit to ourselves. There were a few others camped up there that night but there's plenty of room up top for everyone to spread out and have some privacy. Really special view, especially at sunrise. Saw a few lizards and an owl, but not much else in the way of wildlife. I'd heard this area had problems with feral hogs but we saw no signs of any. I'll definitely do this one again.

My wife and I hiked in from the north trailhead. Once we hit the loop, we hiked clockwise to the summit. Counter clockwise about a mile down will take you to the creek (which appears dry where it meets the trail, but a 200 yard trek further and you'll find water). The condition of the trail isn't too bad apart from some fallen trees. A few families heading back let us know that they had spotted a rattlesnake, but we never encountered any. When you get to the summit, venture down some of those trails to find the best views. We were fortunate enough to set up camp at what I feel is the best view from the mountain. Plenty of firewood, but you'll most likely have to head back to the main trail to find it, for most of the sites have been scavenged by campers. Sunsets are ok, but the sunrise the next morning totally makes up for that. Plenty of privacy. A worthy view in Missouri!

backpacking
3 months ago

Bell Mountain is a gorgeous hike! I set up camp at the summit and woke up to the sunrise. There are significantly steep declines and inclines that will get you breathing heavy. I did the trail counter-clockwise, so the last water source I encountered between the Joe's Creek and the summit was a very murky pond. I would strongly urge anyone to make sure you fill up on water before you get to the summit, otherwise you're in for about a 2-hour round trip to the next water source!

backpacking
4 months ago

Wife and I hiked the trail this past weekend - and I have to admit it kicked my butt. Trail is very rocky and no place for trailrunners. Wear boots. Took the loop counterclockwise and only water was the pond at 37.61923, -90.88707. Lots of pig sign in this area, so filter well. The summit was awesome, but as mentioned elsewhere get there early or you won't get a prime spot. Finished the loop on Sunday and there was plenty of running water. Awesome weekend all-in -all, but would question the "moderate" label, which was seconded by several others we met.

backpacking
4 months ago

Great hike for my first backpacking trip. Camped at the summit. It was gorgeous. Left from the north trail head. Went straight to the peak camped and headed back. Only found one pond to resupply water. Looking forward to doing the entire loop. Since we started on Friday we didn't see many people on the way up, but saw plenty of people on the way out.

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