Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs

Location – 2/5

It was Labor Day 2020 weekend and we had originally planned to stay at Oak Point Campground in Golconda, IL on Lake Glendale. The site was first come first serve and as we arrived around 4pm, we were informed they were totally booked as of 30 minutes ago. She let us know there was a more primitive first come first serve campsite called Rosebud up the road that had sites available. The site was about 30 minutes north next to Bell Smith Springs Scenic Area. We would have likely never found this gem of a campsite on our own so luckily she gave us detailed instructions. As we arrived, there were 3 or 4 sites available.

Campground – 4/5

This campsite turned out to be somewhat of a hidden gem. It was a very peaceful area. The sites were only 50-60 feet apart, but it felt like you had a decent amount of privacy because it was in the middle of the forest. If memory serves correctly, we stayed at site 8 but after looking around, by far the best site is number 17. The sites were located on either side of a large gravel loop. The ground was covered in pine needles and it was decent hardness and not terribly hard to hit stakes in. The entire site was shaded very well but allowed some sunlight through.

Activities – 3/5

Swimming, Biking

There’s no official swimming area in Bell Smith Springs, however there are some swimming holes scattered throughout Bell Smith Springs. We hadn’t planned on swimming but it did seem like there were a few decent spots. The entrance to the springs is just a minute drive up the road. There is a small parking area with stairs down to the trails. Here is a Reddit post with information about where to find all the swimming spots. The loop at the campground was large enough to allow for children to bike around.

We decided to stick with our plan of swimming in Lake Glendale. It was about a 30 minute drive south back to Oak Point area. There was a $5/person fee to swim and it was cash only. They also sold concessions. The swimming area had a huge beach, and a large area to swim. We were not allowed to bring in a cooler but we did bring in a picnic lunch in our towel bag.

Hiking – 5/5

There are multiple hiking paths in Bell Smith Springs. We took the Yellow route which was around 1.5 to 2 miles long with a ton of natural architecture, including Natural Bridge, which is a giant natural rock formation that forms a bridge. The hike is probably a moderate difficulty but there’s lots to see and interact with, including lots of climbing rocks along the trail. We did end up getting turned around a couple times, as the marking wasn’t great on the trail. There were much longer trails that would be great for a day hike.

Amenities 1/5


The bathrooms were vault style toilets and the door on ours didn’t have a locking mechanism or even a good latch, so it was just a glorified port-a-potty. We can only give this one a 1 but it’s better than digging a hole.

Image Source: Google

Firewood and Shopping

Firewood was not available to purchase on-site. The location had also been mostly picked clean. We drove over to a neighboring equestrian camp and bought some firewood after using their ATM. There turned out to be a gas station near the campsite that sold firewood but we found that out after the fact. There was no store on site and water came from a well and tasted like it was heavily treated, so we’d recommend you bring in your own water and make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. As we are proponents of not bringing in outside firewood, we’d recommend buying it in town at the local gas stations.

Overall Rating – 3/5

Overall we give this site 3 out of 5. Although the score is moderate, we really enjoyed this site. If you’re looking for somewhere that you can hang out and do nothing, this place is perfect. If you’re also looking for some nice hiking, this place has that, too. I think we’ll keep this site in our back pocket for future ad-hoc trips.

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