This 9,143 acre wilderness is part of the St. Francois Mountains, one of the oldest landforms in North America. The wilderness is named for a family that once lived and farmed along the ridge top that is now known as Bell Mountain. Elevations range from 1,702 feet at Bell Mountain to 970 feet in the Joe's Creek drainage. Local relief is about 600 feet and is characterized by steep felsite and rhyolite outcroppings. Both Bell Mountain and Lindsey Mountain offer outstanding views of the surrounding area. The associated granite glades provide a variety of interesting plant and animal life.
Shut-in Creek crosses the area. It is a perennial spring fed stream with several shut-ins or gorges along its course. Steep talus slopes intersect the stream at several locations. Joe's Creek is another small perennial stream within the wilderness.
A Wilderness is a special area set aside by Congress which "generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable?" The area is rugged and is for experienced hikers only. Before you start, be prepared with adequate supplies; water sources within the Wilderness are not recommended for drinking. Groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people, to help protect wilderness values.
A brochure (1.2m pdf format) or recreational opportunity guide (144k, pdf format) is available for download.
Limit your party size to 10 persons. No camping within 100 feet of trails, water sources and other camps. Practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics; Never tie stock directly to trees. No motorized or mechanized equipment allowed.
From St. Louis, take Hwy. 21 south through Potosi and then Caledonia to Hwy 32 (ca. 90 mi.); turn west on 32 to Hwy. A (ca. 7 mi.); then, south (ca. 5 mi.) on it to trailhead.