Ascent of Bell Mountain on 2013-07-14

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Date:Sunday, July 14, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bell Mountain
    Elevation:1702 ft / 518 m

Ascent Trip Report

As far as I can determine, Bell Mountain is the 7th highest named summit in Missouri. It is located in the Bell Mountain Wilderness Area, so there are no access issues to worry about. A public parking area is located at 37.62575 N and 90.91141 W. The actual trail up the mountain is on the opposite side of the road. If you stay on the trail this is a long hike of around 10 miles round trip. The trail follows an unnecessarily long distance to the south before finally turning to the NE and heading directly for the summit. On the return to the car, my son decided to reduce the distance by bushwhacking directly to the west from the higher trail in order to intersect the lower trail we hiked on earlier. He said it was an easy route. I am not usually in favor of traveling off established trails, but this saved my son 1 mile of hiking without any switchback damage. I, on the other hand, stayed on the trail until I reached the lower part of the trail and, when I was directly east of my car, I started my personal bushwhack. This proved to be a stupid decision, because the terrain was steep, rocky and overgrown. I would have done better to have stayed on the lower trail instead. There were no views on the summit, but there was an easy to find summit benchmark and a nice clearing for a campsite, except I don't know where you would find any water. If you don't care about grand vistas as you climb, the trail up Bell Mountain provides a pleasant hike through classic Missouri hardwood forests.
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