Ascent of Bell Mountain on 2017-10-23

Climber: Imaniel Solus

Others in Party:Hannah
Date:Monday, October 23, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bell Mountain
    Elevation:1702 ft / 518 m

Ascent Trip Report


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. Boulders sitting on the summit vary in size from 5 ft to 40 ft (optimistically) tall. 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.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Sunny with clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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