Bell Smith Springs is one of the most beautiful recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. The area features an abundance of strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil’s Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge. Hiking this system of trails is a favorite activity because of the rock features, scenic overlooks, hidden springs and lush flora and fauna. Bell Smith Springs is located at Bell Smith Springs Rd, in Ozark, Illinois. For more information, click here.

This picture is owned by Illinois Ozarks

There are 8 miles of interconnected Hiker-Only Trails.  The level of difficulty is rated moderate to difficult. To reach the canyon floor from the main trail, you must descend a stone stairway.

This picture is owned by TNT Photography

Bell Smith Springs, is made up of a series of clear rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs,  the recreation area offers 8 miles of picturesque trails and a variety of rock formations painted by blossoming Spring wildflowers.  The area has a wealth of natural beauty.

Discover Southern Illinois

One of the most captivating features is a set of stone stairs that lead to down to the creek bed.  These stairs were built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Hiking with Shawn

During the summer months, the area is a popular swimming hole.  Another popular site is the Devil’s Backbone, named this because of the huge boulders that rise up out of the water, looking like vertebrae.  This is one of the deeper sections of Bay Creek and is filled with cool clean spring

U.S. Forest Service

Devil’s Backbone is so named because the huge boulders that rise up out of the water kind of look like vertebrae, if you tilt you head just right and use a little imagination. The pool is usually deep, and filled with cool clean spring water.

Richard Sitler

In springtime water in the creeks will be calf-high or more and deep pools exist along the creek any time of year!

Hiking with Shawn

– Use cautious when crossing creeks. Due to the remoteness of the canyon precautions should be taken: Carry water, food, first-aid kit, etc. Cell phones do not reach out of the canyon. Poison ivy & venomous snakes are present.

Charles Larry

For the best nearby family activities, click here. For more of the best parks and Amazing Locations in Illinois, click here. For nearby lodging and campgrounds, click here.