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.

backpacking
28 days ago

This was my first major backpacking trip and it was challenging but doable. It's a great trail with some outstanding views from the summit. I entered from the Highway A trailhead and finding the trailhead was a little bit difficult. Go north on the trail from the parking lot and take a right at the fork and cross the road to get on the trail. It's a fairly step ascent at first but levels out for the middle section of the trail (I went counterclockwise around the loop). Getting to the summit was a bit of a slog but worth it. Competition for campsites at the top can be tight so get there early. I went the day after a major storm blew through so parts of the trail were more like streams than trails while other sections were very muddy. Bring plenty of water. This is a good trail for beginners to get their feet wet with some wilderness experience.

Great trail! Some parts were difficult after heavy rain the night before with water running down the trail and some pretty muddy areas that we had to navigate around. Campsites were perfect...amazing views (especially the sunrise). Get to the summit early to have your pick of campsites. Be careful of poison ivy in certain areas around the loop...not up by the campsites though. Bring a saw if you can....not much wood on the ground for a campfire. No where near the summit to get water...fill up before you get there. Our 8 1/2 year old son did great with a 20 lb. pack.

backpacking
1 month ago

Destination hike, the walk in is pretty decent but when you get to the top BAM! Campsites definitely make the trip a worthwhile endeavor. DEET up, bring water and enjoy the view!

backpacking
1 month ago

A good trail for an overnight stay at the top!
Wear sturdy boots and take plenty of water. Looking forward to seeing the views in the fall!

backpacking
1 month ago

Day 1: Set out from Hwy A- the elevation gains from the trailhead are pretty straight up once you hit the road. You will start to see some glades and some really nice wildflowers about a mile into it. With the rains, there were several small creeks/runoffs crossing the trail, and sometimes inn the trail, so some spots were pretty muddy- glad I was wearing a full boot and not trail runners. Met the Ozark Trail/Bell Loop point and headed up the loop...saw a bore about the size of a large dog. Did not know if I would make it to the top summit, so broke a primitive camp about a mile before- good confidence builder, not using an established camp- made sure it looked the same before I got there before leaving. A coyote came into camp and started howling- startled me a first due to how close he was to the tent- almost hurt my ears!

Day 2: Headed to the summit, marking possible future sites on map (see tip below)...summit was incredible- seemed like a ton of people were on the trail- almost everyone was going to camp on the top so they could "see the sunrise"...I bet there were 10-15 people and dogs topside. Headed off the summit and went to the Joes Creek valley area- some really beautiful camp sites, and tons of water- found a spot right before it headed back up the mountain and set camp. Beautiful!

Day 3: Sunday morning was amazing...enjoyed my normal morning rituals, coffee, breaking camp, meditative time, etc....as I was heading up the trail from this point, noticed how much the trail was starting to overgrow with the summer tarmac...once at the top, really enjoyed the straight downhill hike

This place would be an amazing winter camp- a little crowded for my liking- must have ran into at least 10 folks on the trail, which surprised me-
Tip : No real water you would want to pump at the top of the summit- you will want to bring water in or camp along creek- established camps are not well marked on maps, but they are there

Great trail, lots of elevation gain for Missouri

backpacking
2 months ago

We loved this loop and would recommend it!! The trail was well traveled and marked. The trail that leads to the north trailhead and the trail to the south trailhead doesn't have signs denoting them so recommend having a map or at least be familiar with it so you stay on the loop and not end up off the loop at a unintended trailhead. The trail was free of trash so my hat is off to fellow hikers and backpackers for practicing "no trace" and packaging out what they pack in so those visiting this trail after them can enjoy the beauty this loop has to offer. The view at the top of Bell Mountain is worth the hike and I think it is closer to fifteen miles.

We just got back today from our hike at Bell Mountain. Had a wonderful time and I thought it was marked good and had plenty of dead wood for burning. Excellent camping spots and an awesome view at the summit. We parked on the north end and made our way around clockwise. It's 4 miles from the parking lot to the summit. I saw where there was a split off for the south parking lot and it was marked with an orange strap and 2 metal pieces. I knew which way to go, but it could be confusing if someone didn't know the map well. Personally, it was tiring, but worth it. I appreciated the fact that there was no trash anywhere, hikers/campers are doing a great job picking up.

backpacking
3 months ago

great trail. poorly marked. incredible variety of terrain. friendly hikers. saw a horse trailer but no horses spotted on the trail. started at north bell mountain trailhead, got twisted around and came out at a trailhead 6 or 7 miles from the one we started on. finally found our way back with the help of other hikers.

Beautiful loop through some of the Ozarks finest! It is a Wilderness area, so obviously there's not a lot of blazes, but I had no problems finding my way around the loop. And there were very few step-overs! I done the loop as a day hike, but I would like to go back and camp at the top, and then watch the sun come up the next morning.