Bell Smith Springs Trail is a 4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Ozark, Illinois that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, and camping and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Harrisburg: take Highway 145 south 9 miles to Delwood. Take Forest Rd. 402 west 4 miles to Forest Road 447. Turn south on Forest Road 447, continue past Teal Pond to Forest Road 848. Turn southwest on Forest Road 848 for 2 miles to the Recreation Area entrance. From Vienna, take Highway 45 north to Ozark. Turn east and follow the directional signs to the recreation area entrance.
Lengthy hike with unclear markings. Lost the trail a few times. Only a few high points. Definitely a trail I'll only hike once.
Best hike in the park. Natural bridge and the steel ladder was the most fun.
The trail is poorly marked. It became a guessing game if I was actually on the trail.
There are some cool rock features here. Unfortunately trail markers are terrible and to see the arch and half of the cool stuff you have to ford the river as they haven't seen to build a bridge. The day I went it had rained and the river was up several feet and unfordable.
Got lost but enjoyed it cause the views were worth it. Natural bridge was fun to get to, since you have to cross the water. I climbed the ladder but didn't explore the top since my dog was anxiously waiting for me. Devil's backbone was easy to find as well following the black trail markers. Oddly enough... the stairs back to the parking lot was the hardest part!
Loved it. Will be going back to explore the rest of the trails and spend the day.
We will definitely go back here. There is so much to explore! The white trail is hard to follow but it is beautiful. Be prepared to get your feet wet. We crossed 3 or 4 sections we could not jump across.
We will be going back to the Yellow Trail, we didn't do the whole thing so we didn't find the ladder, but everything is beautiful along the way and you will see trees growing through rock formations.
This trail has 4 parts/trails to it. We ended up hiking all but 1. All trails are nicely marked except for the White trail. I loved the Devils Back Bone on the white trail and recommend walking to it and just turning right back around to avoid the poorly marked portion of the trail. The yellow trail has the best rock formation with a rock wall ladder that isn't for the faint of heart. Nice trail overall.
Absolutely gorgeous hike. However the trails aren't very well marked and easy to lose. We started on the blue trail and had to back track several times. Towards the end the blue trail requires you to cross the river on some rocks but there was nothing telling you that was the way to go and we ended up continuing onto the yellow trail and then the white trail which stops out of nowhere. We got a bit lost for several hours and went in a few big circles before we got back to the rocks in the river and went across which leads you to the huge stone stairs back to the parking lot. Wouldn't have been a big deal if it hadn't gotten dark before we found our way out. Definitely be prepared and bring a flashlight.
I enjoyed this trail. Had to duck inside a cave to escape a few passing rainshowers but that was about it. Trail is marked well in some areas, not so well in others. If I had not missed the trail and "gone rogue" I never would have seen the family of river otters. That was a fun site indeed.
(hiked this in late March or early April of 2016)
Trail leads a local swimming hole with a nice jumping spot, but beyond that was difficult to follow and somehow we never found the "loop" and ended up doubling back after reaching a sign that said trail not maintained beyond this point.