The Bells Mountain Trail itself is 7.5 miles long. This story is about hiking only the first, steep part of the trail, starting at the Moulton Falls Park, and ascending on Bells Mountain.
Many hikers like to hike this steep part (that’s why I call it a climb…), up to a clearing where the trail levels out. There they enjoy the great territorial view, especially the view of Mt. St. Helens. From there they turn around and hike back to the parking lot. The total round-trip hike is about 4 miles.
There are two parking lots, but usually the east parking lot is used for this hike.
If you park at the Moulton Falls park East Parking lot, hike westward to the bridge over East Fork Lewis river. If you park at the West parking lot, hike eastward along the river until you reach the bridge.
There is also a parking lot along the highway, opposite the entrance to the East parking lot, where you can park, in case the parking lots are closed. There no parking fees, or permits needed at the park (at least at the time of this writing)
Cross the bridge and continue along the river about half a mile, until you reach the Bells Mountain Trail-head.
From the trail-head it is a fairly steep uphill hike, with frequent level spots, where you get a chance the catch your breath.
It is a popular trail, and you will most likely encounter other hikers and mountain bikers. It is also a horse trail. I have seen horse tracks on the trail, but so far I haven’t seen any horses there.
There are a few neat bridges crossing small streams. Those are great watering holes for dogs.
There are two mile markers on this part of the trail. Not long after you pass the 1/2 mile marker, there is a smaller trail branching off to the right. Stay left, on the main trail. On your way down, remember to stay on the main trail.
Once you reach the 1 mile marker, it is about another 1/4 mile to the clearing.
You will reach the clearing after a just over 2 mile hike from the parking lot. On a sunny day you will have a great view of the valley to the north, and of Mt. St. Helens.
There is a old logging road that ends at the clearing, but that road is closed for the public. The Washington Department of Natural Resources uses it occasionally when they do trail maintenance and other forest management work.
This is the point where most hikers turn around, back to the parking lot. But the trail continues for many more miles, and connects to other trails in the trail system, including trails going up to Silver Star Mountain.
The Moulton Falls Park is located along East Fork Lewis river. Follow SR503 North from Battle Ground and turn east onto Rock Creek Road, which will turn into Lucia Falls Road.
Additional info on the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation website
I also placed a geo-cache up at the clearing: Bells Mountain Trail Cache. It is a more difficult cache, and recommended for experienced geocachers.
My Bells Mountain Trail climb Youtube Video: Bells Mountain Trail Hike