Hike Bell Smiths Springs

1.5 miles 164 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Lucas Bremer

A special playground of creeks, bluffs, waterfalls, and a natural bridge.

Four separate trails make up the 8 miles of available hikes in the Bell Smith Springs National Natural Landmark. The dirt trails can be moderate to difficult in some areas. Please, stay on designated trails. The trails pass under large shelter bluffs and various rock formations while offering views and overlooks of Bay Creek.

Discover the Sentry Bluff Trail, marked with blue diamonds, and travel along the cliffs above the canyon giving the hiker a spectacular view of the gully below. Stop at Boulder Falls to view one of the area’s most scenic waterfalls.

The General Area Trails, marked with white diamonds, provide 1.5 miles of hiking with highlights such as Devil’s Backbone.

Explore the 1.5 mile Natural Bridge Trail marked with yellow diamonds to get a view of Bell Smith Springs from the highest natural bridge in Shawnee National Forest. This natural bridge spans 125 feet and arches 30 feet over the canyon.

Experience Mill Branch Trail by following the red diamonds. This trail covers 2 miles and follows either side of Mill Branch Creek. Stop for a bit of history at Old Grist Mill Dam, the last standing structure of the ghost town of Hartsville. For long hikes, take water, food, and first aid as the trails can be quite remote. 

Read More

Tags

Fishing
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Benton, Illinois

Benton KOA

Benton, Illinois

Dale Miller Youth

Overview Congratulations! You've just discovered Rend Lake, the perfect place to enjoy a wide variety of activities, events and nature at its best. Even a short visit to Rend Lake will impress you ...

Benton, Illinois

South Marcum Day Use

Overview Congratulations! You've just discovered Rend Lake, the perfect place to enjoy a wide variety of activities, events, and nature at its best. Even a short visit to Rend Lake will impress you...

Benton, Illinois

South Marcum Campround

Overview Congratulations! You've just discovered Rend Lake, the perfect place to enjoy a wide variety of activities, events and nature at its best. Even a short visit to Rend Lake will impress you ...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike & Climb at Jackson Falls

    The road into Jackson Falls is rough and sometimes has washouts. A high clearance or 4x4 vehicle are almost required. Once you reach the parking or primitive camping area, take the short path to the top of the falls. It is close to only a 0.25 mil...

    4.5 miles 410 ft gain

  • Hike to Sand Cave

    Shawnee National Forest played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century. As slaves escaped and headed north, the dense forest and rugged terrain offered natural hiding places. On the route through Pope County, Illinois, f...

    1.2 miles 32 ft gain

  • Paddle Millstone Lake

    Enjoy the seclusion of this 118-acre lake. After a few miles of unimproved rough road, you will arrive at the spill way of Millstone Lake. The remoteness alone is worth the trip. Kayak, Canoe, or SUP the lake and even extend it up a couple of mile...

  • Hike to Burden Falls

    Located in the Shawnee National Forest, Burden Falls, though perhaps small by other standards, is among the highest in Illinois. There are many side trails to explore, making this a great spot for birders and photographers.

    3.5 miles