The United States Congress designated the Bell Mountain Wilderness (map
) in 1980 and it now has a total of 9,143 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Missouri
and is managed by the Forest Service.
Named for a family that once farmed here, Bell Mountain protects a predominately oak-hickory forest interspersed with pine and elm, scattered grassy glades with lichen-covered granite outcroppings, and a diversity of plant species usually found in old-growth forests. Shut-In Creek, a year-round spring-fed run of water with several gorges ("shut-ins") crosses the area between steep talus slopes. The elevation peaks at 1,702-foot Bell Mountain, then falls to 970 feet at Joe's Creek, another small perennial stream. White-tailed deer, turkeys, and squirrels call this home, but not in abundance. They share the area with pileated woodpeckers, woodthrush, and ovenbirds, all of which thrive in a mature forest.
A maintained pathway, the Bell Mountain Trail, crosses the Wilderness from north to south for approximately six miles and joins a small section of the Ozark Trail in the southwestern corner of the area. When completed, the Ozark Trail will run from Saint Louis, Missouri, to the Arkansas border, where it will join the Ozark Highlands Trail. Another route, the Lindsey Mountain Trail in the southeastern portion is not a part of the formal trail system and therefore not regularly maintained, but provides recreation opportunities for adventurous visitors. It climbs almost 2.5 miles one-way to a dead end on Lindsey Mountain, the second highest point in the Wilderness.