A couple of weekends ago, Eric and I, accompanied by friends John and Sammy, drove four hours southeast to explore the Irish Wilderness, Missouri's largest wilderness area. We hiked White's Creek Trail, starting from the Camp Five Pond Trailhead, over two days. Although the loop is listed at 17.4 miles, most travelers have clocked it at closer to 20 miles. And, if you take the few spurs off the main loop to visit the Eleven Point River and springs, you might hike closer to 22 miles, as we did.
For Eric's birthday, we decided to check out the 11.6-mile Bell Mountain Loop Trail, which had been on our list to check out for a while. Eric was off work on Friday (state holidays are great) but was moving slowly that morning; so, after the three-hour drive and an extremely curvy road, we pulled into the parking lot around 2 pm. The parking lot is a bit easy to miss since it's on the other side of the road from the Bell Mountain Wilderness sign.