Bell Mountain Wilderness is in Iron County Missouri, around 30 miles south of Potosi. The Bell mountain trail is an 11 or so mile loop depending on the trail head you start from. Bell Mountain is 1702 ft. and offers superb views to the east and of the 600 ft. drop into the very steep valley of Shut-in Creek. Bell Mountain is part of the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest geological formations in North America and it’s quite different to the karst geology in the west of the state.
See Getting to Bell Mountain Wilderness below.
The Bell Mountain trail is fairly easy going. The surface is generally good and there are only two major climbs/ascents on the main trail loop (the descent and climb out of the valley of Joe’s Creek). If you start the trail at the Western Ottery Creek trailhead, it’s a different story. From there the trail starts with a 770 ft. climb to get up to the Bell Mountain ridge where the trail joins the Bell Mountain trail loop.
We were last at Bell Mountain Wilderness in March 2012. At the time there was water in Joe’s Creek and in the ponds marked on our map.
Download the kmz file for Google Earth or downlooad this version for your GPS receiver. The KMZ file includes a full USGS topographic map of the Bell Mountain Wilderness area.
Link to a down-loadable, printable, pdf version of the trail map.
We also have this graphic image version of the map:
Official Trails in Bell Mountain Wilderness
Elevation gain/loss: 1164 ft.
Maximum slope: 25%
Starting fairly level from the north parking lot on County Road 2228 (Note this is just a wide spot on the road), going counter-clockwise this trail begins with a long fairly level run along a ridge until the trail joins the main loop (5.6 Miles) and then starts to descend more steeply down to Joe’s Creek.
In the valley there are several creek crossings, and several camping places, some of which are quite well used. The climb out of the valley’s hard work until you get to the top of the ridge then it’s fairly even with a climb up to the mountain top.
There’s a very well used and quite messy fire ring at the highest point. Do take the time to bushwhack to the glades to the east for a fantastic view over the valley of Shut-in Creek.
Continuing on the trail the descent is a little rough but not difficult, and the point where the trail from the trailhead joins comes quite quickly.
Mapped by GPS: March 18-19, 2012.
Elevation gain: 770 ft.
Elevation loss: 237 ft.
Maximum slope: 23%
The figures above are one-way from the trailhead to the ridge only. We’ve not hiked this trail – the 770 ft. climb convinced us to use the north trailhead. The track on the map is taken from a USGS Topo map. Once you get to the top of the ridge a complete loop is around 5.6 Miles. Giving a total hike of 10.92 Miles.
There is room to camp at the Ottery Creek trailhead and plenty of parking.
Mapped: Traced from USGS Topo map.
Elevation gain: 648 ft.
Maximum slope: 21%
Distance and elevation gain are for a round trip. We’ve not hiked this trail. The track on the map is taken from a USGS Topo map, and the figures from Google Earth.
Mapped: Traced from USGS Topo map.
Getting to the Bell Mountain Trail North Trailhead (on county Road. 2228) From Potosi
View Route from Potosi to the Bell Mountain Wilderness North Trailhead (C0 Road 2228) in a larger map
Google Street View of the entrance to County Road 2228 from State Highway A.
Getting to the Bell Mountain Ottery Creek Trailhead (State Highway A) From Potosi
View Route from Potosi to the Ottery Creek Parking Lot – Bell Mountain Wilderness in a larger map
Ottery Creek Trailhead from State Highway A.
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