Backpack the Bell Mountain Loop

Missouri Highway A Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    12.1 Miles


Overnight backpacking trip in southern Missouri for those looking for a beginner backpacking experience. Long enough to get that backwoods feeling, short enough not to wear out first timers!

An offshoot from the Ozark Trail, the Bell Mountain Loop trail offers a 12 mile loop (when starting from the HWY A trail head) that works perfectly as a beginner backpacking trip. The Ozark Trail website offers excellent maps for all sections of the trail (for free!), click here.

Day 1: Hike 7.5 miles, camp at summit of Bell Mountain

Starting from the HWY A trail head, head north along the connector trail for a short distance, then cross over highway A to enter The Bell Mountain Wilderness. Next climb gradually for about 2 miles to reach the Bell Mountain Loop trail intersection, and turn left. Continue another mile to reach the loop intersection, and turn left to descend to Joe's creek. Beware, this is a sharp turn and can be missed if you're not careful. Make sure to fill all water at Joe's creek, this is the only reliable water source you'll see all trip. As always, be sure to filter all water! Continue on another 4 miles to the summit of Bell Mountain, and setup camp for the night overlooking one of the best views in the state!

Day 2: Enjoy beautiful sunrise from top of Bell, hike 4.5 miles back to your vehicle

Make sure to wake up for sunrise as the overlook faces directly east and, weather permitting, delivers a beautiful sunrise. Pack up camp and enjoy a largely downhill 4.5 mile back to your vehicle. 

Pack List

  • Backpack (45L min)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • 2 Person Tent
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camp Stove and Fuel 
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Hydration Bladder & Bottles
  • 10 Essentials  
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Overall rating: 

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Having completed several trails throughout my home state of Missouri . I can say that Bell mountain loop gives some breath taking views. Several great lookouts as well as camp spots. Perfect place to see the sun rise or set. This is not a difficult loop for the rewards one is given. Great hike for families as well. If your backpacking in Missouri I would give this careful consideration. As well it joins the Ozark Trail . Therefore you have many options for distances and desires. As well the local park office at Johnson shut ins offers very reasonable shuttle services. Be sure to take in Taum Saux Mountain as well the tallest point in Missouri.

6 months ago
6 months ago

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