North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Post a narrative about your trip on the Ozark Trail

North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby CharlieW » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:16 pm

I put in at the North Bell Mountain trailhead about 2:30 Wednesday, July 23, 2014 with the intent of spending the next three days making my way to the Barton Fen trailhead. The trail starts off relatively flat for the first 2-3 miles, then you climb a bit, but nothing too challenging. There was one small standing, leafy water source part way that I didn’t need to use since I was carrying enough to last me until the next morning.

I camped at the top of the mountain with a spectacular view and big rock furniture. The weather was good, no bugs, you couldn’t ask for more.

The next morning I hiked by a good size pool of water partway down the mountain which was a good place to refresh my supply. This is not the “Small Pool” shown on the map, but an unmarked pond on the left, just past the 5-mile point. There was lots of water here and I imagine there usually is.

From there it was an easy and scenic trail all the way to Ottery creek, where there was, again, plenty of water. My plan was to camp somewhere past Panther Branch, where I could stock up on water and not have to carry it too far, so I skipped the water at Peter Hollow. But when I got to Panther Branch, it was dry. Not knowing for sure where I might find water further north, I hiked back a couple of miles to the last water source I passed and filled up.

This round trip back-tracking added 4 miles to my day, which totaled about 15 miles by the time I found a place to camp. I look for campsites in higher elevations where there is a bit more breeze, less bugs and less dampness. Sometimes in Missouri that means settling for a spot with lots of leaves, sticks and undergrowth, which is not ideal (where’s a pine forest when you need one?), and that was the case for my Thursday night site.

My plan for Friday was to hike to the Small Pool (another one) and camp around there somewhere, leaving me an easy 4 mile hike to the car Saturday morning. On the way I stopped at the Wolf Pen Hollow waterfall, which is nice and picturesque, but not the 12’ free-falling water I had pictured in my head. I was hoping to stand underneath it and cool off, but it’s just not configured that way. Still, it was a nice stop. There is also a nice campsite above the falls if you like camping in the lowlands.

A mile or two past Wolf Pen my plans changed when I got a text that a family member had been taken to the hospital. I managed to get a text through that I could probably make it back to the car that day and to let me know if that’s what I should do. Then I lost my signal. I continued to hike with no signal, and decided, once I passed Small Pool, that I might as well go all the way to the car since I was still off the grid. I hiked a few more miles before the signal returned and I got a reply that I didn’t need to come back that night, but at that point I was 2 miles from the car, so I finished up.

That gave me a 17 mile day, according to my GPS. Following the 15 miler the day before, and given my >35 lb. load, I was pretty tired!

Approaching the car I came upon a timber rattler. You have to watch where you step, even (especially) along a paved road.

All in all, it was a great hike. I’m planning my next OT adventure for the fall. Any suggestions?
CharlieW
 
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Re: North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:58 am

Nice write-up. Glad to hear it wasn't too buggy out there.

For your next adventure, it is hard to beat the hike from Ottery Creek to either Johnson Shut-Ins or Taum Sauk. Great scenery - I think that ~30 mile section of trail is the best in Missouri.

If you want somethign more off the beaten path, with some route-finding, head to Rockpile Mountain Wilderness or the Irish Wilderness. Rockpile only has 2 miles of maintained trail, and the rest is a bushwack. The Irish Wilderness has a ~20 mile trail that isn't maintained that well.
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Re: North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby CharlieW » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:42 am

Dirtroadrunner- Thanks for the suggestions. The trail between Ottery Creek and Taum Sauk has my interest. Can you tell me where the compelling campsites are along this stretch?
CharlieW
 
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Re: North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby n3870v » Sat Aug 02, 2014 8:06 am

Sounds like a nice couple of days, thanks for the report. I have done that trip in the months of May and Oct, every creek was always running with plenty of water. I guess they can dry up pretty quickly.

You are right about trying to camp in a Missouri hardwood forest, that is one reason I switched to a hammock instead of a tent. You don't have to worry about clearing away any ground.

A great way to finish a hike at the Barton Fen trailhead is a meal at the Bixby Country store. If you exited the trailhead north on the dirt county road 79 (also known as Neels creek road) it ends at highway 32. Cant miss it at the end of the road.

N3870V
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Re: North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby CharlieW » Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:06 pm

N3870v- I use a hammock as well, but I still appreciate a tidy campsite that's easy to move around in. It's more psychological than anything.

I think the Bixby restaurant you mention is where I stopped to get a big diet coke to keep me awake for the three hour drive home. I should have eaten there but I didn't want to make myself any sleepier.
CharlieW
 
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Re: North Bell Mountain to Barton Fen

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:50 am

CharlieW wrote:Dirtroadrunner- Thanks for the suggestions. The trail between Ottery Creek and Taum Sauk has my interest. Can you tell me where the compelling campsites are along this stretch?


I've only dayhiked the portion between Ottery Creek and JSI. The best campsites that I remember were scattered on glades on both Bell Mountain and Goggins Mountain. Goggins Mountain has a huge glade at the south end with sweeping views - you can see all the way to the mountains near Piedmont. The trail map said you can see Stegall Mountain, but it was kind of hazy when I hiked it and it wasn't visible (though I'm sure it is on a nice day). There is also a nice campsite right on Padfield Branch, between the two mountains.

From JSI to Taum Sauk, I seem to remember a few campsites on the top of Proffit Mountain. There are at least 5-10 sites right along Taum Sauk Creek as well. When I backpacked it in December, I camped on the north side of the creek.
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