Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area


Bell Smith Springs is one of the most beautiful recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. It contains a series of clear, rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs and an abundance of vegetation unique to Illinois. The trail system consists of eight miles of interconnected trails featuring 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.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Campground is open 3/15 - 12/15 - Bell Smith Springs Trail System is open All Year
Area Amenities: Drinking water
Fees Red Bud Campground - $10
Fees subject to change
Open Season: January
Usage: Light-Medium
Best Season: May-September
Busiest Season: May-September
Closest Towns: Vienna
Water: Red Bud Campground has drinking water
Restroom: Red Bud Campground has a Vault
Information Center: Surrounding Area: Burden Falls and Bay Creek Wildernesses, Teal Pond, Millstone Bluff Archaeological Site, Lake Glendale Recreation Area, Trigg Fire Tower, Jackson Hollow and River to River Trail.
Difficulty Level: Moderate – Difficult. To reach the canyon floor from the main trail, you must descend a stone stairway.

General Information

General Notes:

Length: 8 miles of interconnected hiker-only trails
General Area Trails – 1.5 miles
Sentry Bluff Trail – 3.2 miles
Mill Branch Trail – 2 miles
Natural Bridge Trail –1.5 miles

Redbud Campground has 21 Campsites


Map of Bell Smith SpringsFrom Harrisburg, take Route 145/34 south to Delwood. At Delwood, turn west on FR402. Take FR402 west 4 miles to junction FR447. Proceed south on FR447 past Teal Pond to FR848. Take FR848 two miles southwest to Bell Smith Springs


Trail Markings: General Area - White diamond
Sentry Bluff Trail - Blue diamond
Mill Branch Trail - Red diamond
Natural Bridge Trail - Yellow diamond

Trail Ethics: Pack It In, Pack It Out. Some rare and endangered species of plants are located in the area so please stay on the designated trails and leave the rocks and plants for others to enjoy. Equestrians are prohibited on this trail system.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

  • Reset Map
    Reset Map
Loading Icons...


Camping & Cabins

Show detail SHOW


Show detail SHOW


Drinking water