Bell Mountain Loop Trail

MODERATE 95 reviews

Bell Mountain Loop Trail is a 11.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Belleview, Missouri that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
11.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1683 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Oak and hickory are the predominate tree species, with some areas of natural oak-pine and some short leaf pine plantations. Upland brush and red cedar make up a small portion of the vegetative component. Blackjack oak, winged elm, hickories, sumac, and native grasses are found on the glades. Lichens abound on the exposed-surface rock. Some areas on Bell Mountain that were cleared in the 1940's now have almost pure stands of Northern Red Oak. Shut-in Creek crosses the area. It is a perennial spring fed stream with several shut-ins, or gorges along its course. Steep talus slopes intersect the stream course at several locations. Joe's Creek is another small perennial stream within the Wilderness. Bell Mountain Wilderness provides a unique habitat situation not typical of the majority of Missouri's Ozarks. The predominately oak-hickory forest is interspersed with pine and scattered glades resulting in a diversity of plant species more common to old growth forest. This habitat situation favors mature forest species such as pileated woodpeckers, wood thrush and oven birds.

2 days ago

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
24 days 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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

2 months ago

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

hiking
3 months ago

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
5 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.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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
6 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
6 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.

6 months ago

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
7 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.

camping
7 months ago

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
7 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
8 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
8 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.

hiking
9 months ago

10 months ago

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
10 months 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.

backpacking
10 months ago

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
10 months 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
11 months 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
11 months 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

hiking
11 months ago

Great trail, lots of elevation gain for Missouri

backpacking
Wednesday, April 05, 2017

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.

hiking
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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.

hiking
Sunday, March 19, 2017

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.

hiking
Sunday, March 12, 2017

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.

backpacking
Monday, February 27, 2017

very rocky.... we thought the trail was only 11 miles. it turned out to be 15.5 with a lot of incline hiking. very few markers.

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