Great trail with a beautiful view from the summit. Also sort of busy on the weekend-expect at least one other person/group to set up camp at the top with you if you plan to backpack.

Most of the trail is pretty rocky and steep, so bring good boots and minimal other gear. If you go on the left, expect to go downhill quickly to a river and all the way back up again both ways. Good to refill on water. The left side to camp took is about 4 hours of hiking and going down on the right side of the loop, a more steady decline, took about 2hours.

Be careful of muddy spots caused by horses churning up the path (waterproof your shoes) and also horse poop.

Lastly, make sure you take lots of precautions to protect yourself from ticks. It seemed like Lone Star and seed ticks were everywhere.

backpacking
19 days ago

We did an overnight hike here. It was great loop for our group. It offered a few challenging hills. Joes creek was about 1-2 way thru and we where able to grab some water. I will defiantly do this loop again ad possibly relay it into the next trail over for a nice 25 mile hike

backpacking
25 days ago

Great moderate trail for the first-timer and offers an opportunity for a backpacking/overnight adventure too. The sunset and sunrise are incredible from the summit. There are a few places for water in Joe’s Creek on the North side of the loop. I think the best way to hike is counter clockwise since you’ll be low on water from the first day and camping, and the way back gives you the chance to fill up. Spray up your waistline and your ankles and your exposed areas with big spray since there are a few ticks, but if you’re smart about how you dress and use your tent, it’s fine. Bring some earplugs if you don’t sleep well with the whippoorwill’s chirping at night. :-)

backpacking
27 days ago

Started around Noon yesterday, went counter clockwise as I didn’t want to miss the sunset. The first 1.5-2 miles were challenging with high inclines and a rocky trail. Took a little under 3 hours to get to the summit with a few snack breaks in between (28F, ~25 lb pack). Beautiful scenery and was able to watch the sunset by heading a little further down the trail and over some gorgeous rock formations. Woke up at 5 am to catch the sunset. Back on the trail (did not complete the loop, went back the way I came as I was running low on water) at 6:50. Other campers found water further down the trail, but there was no real water access going counter clockwise. I brought 3 liters (used 2 cups for cooking) and used almost every drop so be prepared. Made it back to the parking lot by 8:45. Great trail for beginning backpackers!

backpacking
1 month ago

Set out to do a 2 night backpacking trip. Hiked 5 miles UP the mountain, set up camp, played around a bit, then prepared to take cover from the storm that, according to the weather man, wasn't supposed to happen. Rode that storm out in the tent (it was only 3pm) and, after checking the weather and surveying the storm headed toward us (twice as big as the first), we decided it was best not to stick around. We hiked 5 miles back down the mountain, literally walking through a creek the whole way and crossing several water falls because there was so much water from the first rain. We made it back out about 30 minutes before the next storm hit. There were at least 2 or 3 more rounds that night. Trail was difficult, rocky and wet. Probably be a great trail in the Fall. Spring rain and Missouri humidity make it difficult this time of year. All in all, a good workout.

backpacking
1 month ago

I hiked in from the Highway A trailhead. I didn’t get started until about 1pm, and with temperatures in the low 90s I took a lot of breaks (41M) and reached the summit in about three hours going counter-clockwise. I set up camp with a beautiful view. There are lots of campsites with fire rings set up. I was low on water and had to decide if I was going to attempt to head down the mountain to reach Johnson Shut-in Creek or continue hiking around the loop counter-clockwise to reach Joe’s Creek. I decided to head for Joe’s Creek, which was about 2.5 hours round trip.

A storm was moving in, and I cooked dinner and watched the lightning show for a while before retiring to my tent. A loud, spectacular thunderstorm began around 9:30pm and went on non-stop until around midnight. After it ended , I emerged and enjoyed the post-storm darkness for a while before finally falling asleep. I hiked back down the same way in the morning. I saw a few wild turkeys and lots of lizards and turtles. The ticks were thick.

I only saw one other hiker, but I heard a couple of guys at a campsite about 100 yards from me, I assume they’re the ones that posted about heading down the mountain during the storm.

2nd time @ Bellé Muerto. Drove to Ottery Creek Campground at 2am and had the Camp to ourselves. Woke up around 10am and Hiked to the Summit (2.5 Hours, 6-/+ miles with small detours. Set up camp at the summit and walked down to Shut In Creek. The hike down to creek is short (1/2 mile) but intense, especially during the summer with so much foliage. Swam in the creek and then headed back up out summit camp around 6pm. We started making food and watched a storm in the distance which appeared to make its way around us. By sunset the storm had moved close, and by dark we were immersed in a pretty intense thunderstorm. After watching several strikes of lightning hit nearby Lindsay Mountain & Shut In Creek we decided to get off the mountain. Panicking in the dark with very heavy rain we got lost and ran around for about 20 minutes before finding the actual trail. Then with all of our gear we ran through intense thunder & lightning the 6-/+ miles back to car in a little over 1 hour.

One of the scariest nights of my life. Pure terror. Very humbling. Always check the weather before camping on summits and if a storm brews unexpectedly don’t wait to see if it will miss you or not. The radar told us that the storm was not going to hit us.

Bell Mountain is one of the tallest summits in the surrounding area & one of the rockiest summits in Missouri. That can either be really cool or dangerous as well.

BEAUTIFUL hike, BEAUTIFUL summit. 5/5 as always

20 mile day. the night of reckoning. the night we all almost died.

im not the best at expressing how I feel,
but if last night taught me anything, it's that I do not want to be left on a bad foot with anyone.

5/14/2018 the trip that almost didn't allow me to come back

a constant reminder at how easy it is to take things for granted. even what u love.

life or death sitatuion how do you react, how do you keep your thoughts together?


from this day on, everyday is looked at like a life or death situation
when I lay down and go to sleep, I die, my mind leaves, and portals back.
wake up and restarts,
intake, release, reflect, increase, decrease.
every sunset is a day, I'm never going to get back.
every night is my lightning storm.
5/14 thank you so much for sparing me,
and letting me intake the most valuable lesson
how precious LIFE is

backpacking
1 month ago

Very scenic for how short the trail is. A very nice distance if you want an easy 2 night backpacking trip or are short on time. Lots of good campsites near the summit. Busier than some other trails in the area but their was enough room for around 5 groups to make camp when we went. Make sure to bring enough water or a good filter as their are not many good water sources near the top. The trail is easy enough to follow and would definitely do it again.

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked with my friend and dog to the summit. Initially went the wrong way; where we were supposed to cross the street, we took a left and followed the Ozark trail for ~4 miles. Realized we went wrong way once I got some cell service and opened the map; by that time it was 6pm and time to set up camp. Next day, headed out around 7am and made our way across the stream, the road, and up the trail. First couple miles were a bit challenging, with moderately steep grade and a very rocky trail. (for reference: 19, male, great shape; first time backpacking. load was too heavy and will not make that mistake again!!) There were some breaks in the treeline on the way up with great views, perfect for taking a break. Definitely enjoy that as you won't get a similar view until the summit. Took us ~3 hours to get from the road to the summit -- probably won't take that long if you don't have a really heavy load like we did.
Got to "summit" -- and I say "summit" because while being the highest point, there really isn't too much of a break in the treelines -- that said, where there are breaks, it's an incredible view. There are many protruding rocks (boulders?) which gave us great views. Caught timelapses of the sunrise. We set up camp and realized we were pretty low on water. While there was a pond near the beginning of the loop, it was pretty muck and we'd read something about Joe'sCreek being a viable source of water. We came across no such creek on the way to the summit, so i'm assuming that creek was located on the clockwise way of the loop (we went counterclockwise -- summit is much closer that way). So, we did what naive amateurs do and decided to decline the mountain, a mile due east from campsite, as we knew there was a river "Shut-in Creek" down there. Went from ~1700ft elevation to ~700ft in the span of a mile, through the thick. Let me tell you-- it was hard. There was no trail, and we had to go through some thick areas. We were heavily protected from ticks and the like, but still. Took ~20 min to get down, hit the river which was B E A Utiful as can be. The Hike back up was difficult -- about 45 min. In retrospect, we should have just made our way to Joe's Creek. But, it was our first time, and we sure learned from it. A couple other groups set up camp on the summit. Made some friends. You wouldn't believe how many stars there are when there's no light pollution. Awe-inspiring.
All in all, a great first backpacking experience. The Hike down was considerably easier; we made it back to the car in less than half the time it took to go up. My dog, Skipper, did well. K9 Advantix 2 days prior, and a flea/tick collar is a must. Found a lot of dead ticks on him. Kinda cool. Will definitely go back -- a bit more prepared next time.

The loop starting at highway A is a little more than 12 miles. Only two decent sized climbs (the biggest during the first couple of miles, then it's mostly flat). Take your time at the few overlooks as those are the best views. Other than stopping for lunch at a nice overlook, I did it in about 4.5 hours.

started at the highway A, ozark trail, ottery creek trailhead (there is a second entrance that follows yellow trail tape). I decided to go counter clockwise, which I think actually made this an easier hike. in total it took me 4.5 hours (23M, in good shape), including time to eat lunch ams about 20min of bird watching. I used about 1.5 liters of water, using my filter to refill at the creek that you cross (for is new and I wanted I play with my new toy haha).

I will say I expected a little more of a break in the tree line for something labeled as a mountain (probably cause I'm from the northeast and hike out there a lot). but I was very happy with my first ever hike in Missouri! trees weren't green yet but a good portion of the trail was lined with gorgeous quilts flowers and I had strong birds singing the whole hike!

backpacking
2 months ago

There's some really nice camping spots at the top of the mountain with good views. Everything's still pretty dead in late March but I'd love to come back another time of year.

backpacking
3 months 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.

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

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

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.

backpacking
7 months 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.

backpacking
8 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
8 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
9 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
9 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
10 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
10 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.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

great trail! we planned on doing this one as an overnight but accidentally did it in a day. trail has almost no blazes but is well trafficked so it's easy to find your way.

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