Exploring Bell Smith Springs, Illinois: A Hidden Gem in Southern Illinois

Bell Smith Springs is a hidden gem nestled in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Located about 30 miles from the renowned Garden of the Gods and Shawnee Forest Cabins, this area offers a unique and scenic hiking experience that is hard to match. With a series of interconnected trails, clear streams, rock formations, and lush vegetation,   Bell Smith Springs   promises an adventure for nature lovers and hikers alike.

Getting to Bell Smith Springs

To reach Bell Smith Springs IL, take a scenic drive through the heart of Southern Illinois. The journey itself is part of the adventure, with rolling hills and dense forests guiding your way. Once you arrive, you’ll find yourself on Bell Springs Road, which leads directly to the entrance of the recreation area.

bellsmith spring natural formation

Highlights of Bell Smith Springs

Bell Smith Springs boasts several key attractions that make it a must-visit destination. One of the most notable features is the Natural Bridge, a stunning rock formation that arches gracefully over the clear waters below. Nearby, Devil’s Backbone offers a challenging yet rewarding hike, with panoramic views that are sure to take your breath away.

The trails at Bell Smith Springs are well-marked and varied, providing options for both novice hikers and seasoned adventurers. The combination of clear streams, dramatic rock formations, and dense forest creates a picturesque backdrop for any hike. It’s no wonder that  Bell Smith Springs is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Illinois.

Trails to Explore

There are several trails within the Bell Smith Springs area, each offering its unique charm and level of difficulty. The interconnected nature of these trails allows for a customized hiking experience, whether you’re looking for a short, leisurely walk or a more strenuous adventure.

Natural Bridge Trail

The Natural Bridge Trail is one of the most popular routes in Bell Smith Springs. This trail takes you to the iconic Natural Bridge, where you can marvel at the rock formation and enjoy the surrounding scenery. The trail is relatively easy, making it suitable for families and casual hikers.

Devil’s Backbone

For those seeking a bit more challenge, Devil’s Backbone is the perfect trail. This route features steeper inclines and rugged terrain, but the effort is well worth it. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the forest and rock formations below.

bellsmith spring looking at map

Tips for Visiting Bell Smith Springs

When planning your visit to Bell Smith Springs, here are a few tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Wear appropriate footwear: The trails can be rocky and uneven, so sturdy hiking boots are recommended.
  • Bring plenty of water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the warmer months.
  • Pack a map: While the trails are well-marked, having a map on hand can help you navigate and plan your route.
  • Respect wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and do not disturb their natural habitat.

Bell Smith Springs: A Photographer's Paradise

For photography enthusiasts, Bell Smith Springs offers endless opportunities to capture the beauty of nature. From the intricate rock formations to the serene streams, every corner of this recreation area is a potential masterpiece. Early morning and late afternoon provide the best lighting for photos, highlighting the textures and colors of the landscape.

Bell smith springs camera

Cabins Near Bell Smith Spring, Illinois

After a day of exploring  Bell Smith Springs, retreat to one of the nearby cabins for a restful night surrounded by nature.

Shawnee Forest Cabins

A short drive from Bell Smith Springs, Shawnee Forest Cabins offer a peaceful and comfortable retreat. Each cabin includes comforts like a hot tub for relaxing after a day of adventure. Surrounded by nature’s tranquility and rustic charm, these cabins are a perfect escape from everyday life.

Treehouse Cabin

For a unique stay, try the Treehouse Cabin. Nestled among the trees, it’s a cozy hideaway. Guests can relax in a private hot tub and enjoy the suspension bridge. The Treehouse Cabin offers beautiful views of the forest, making any Bell Smith Springs trip extra special.

Woodland Cabins

Alternatively, consider the Woodland Cabins for a rustic yet charming retreat. Tucked away amidst the forest canopy, these cabins provide an enchanting escape for nature lovers, offering a serene atmosphere to unwind after a day of exploration.

treehouse shawnee forest suspended bridge

Directions to Bell Smith Springs

To enjoy the natural wonder of Bell Smith Springs National Natural Landmark, take IL-145 and turn east onto Water Tower Road. Continue on this road, which becomes Ozark Road, and follow it further. Look for the left turn towards Bell Smith Springs Road, and shortly after, take the first left onto Bell Smith Springs Road. Park your vehicle and start your hike at the trailhead, descending the stone steps. For an up-close view of large boulders in the creek bed, turn right. Alternatively, turn left for shallow wading to the Natural Arch.


Bell Smith Springs is a remarkable destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and tranquility. Whether you’re hiking the trails, exploring the rock formations, or simply soaking in the serene atmosphere, this hidden gem in Southern Illinois is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit to   Bell Smith Springs   today and discover the wonders that await in this beautiful recreation area.

Additional Information

Bell Smith Springs  is located in the Shawnee National Forest, about 30 miles from Garden of the Gods and Shawnee Forest Cabins. The area features a series of interconnected trails, clear streams,

Bell Smith Spring Illinois- Map