Hellhole Canyon

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness, California

Elevation Gain1,031ft
Trailhead Elevation891ft
Elevation Min/Max891/1881ft
Elevation Start/End891/891ft

Hellhole Canyon

Hellhole Canyon is a hiking trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 2.5 miles long and begins at 891 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,031 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms. The trail ends near the Maidenhair Falls attraction.

Hellhole Canyon Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"In the midst of one of the hottest and driest deserts in the United States, it feels surprising to find a place where mosses, ferns, sycamores, and cottonwoods flourish around a sparkling waterfall in a palm oasis. Maidenhair Falls is such a place, and it lies not far from Borrego Springs and the popular Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center."
Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Sheri McGregor
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"At first glance, this may seem just another dry, flat hike, but the desert holds surprises. Spend the last mile or so hopping on boulders to find a shady palm oasis with a waterfall lined in cascading maidenhair ferns. Outstanding Features: Sandy wash, ocotillo, cholla cactus, agave, seasonal stream, and waterfall with maidenhair ferns."

Hellhole Canyon Trip Reports

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Even though it was November when we did this walk, it was very hot!
The walk on the path that is also used by cars is a bit boring. The recommended walk back (through the ravine) is a lot more interesting and I would recommend to walk this 'path' the way to and back from the mine. The gorge is amazing although it is quite a scramble at times to get through it. At the end we where stuck though, looking at some big boulders that had fallen down into the gorge and blocking the way. One of us managed to climb up and continue towatds the mine and the two remaining ones of us walked back through the gorge. (In the shadow which was bliss!)
The car road to the right just before you reach the gorge leads to the mines, but it is worthwhile walking the gorge, for fun! All in all very enjoyable.
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Great hike. Family members really enjoyed the diversion up the slot canyon that branches off 2/3 of the way in. They found the obstacles in the canyon a fun challenge. We had to exit the canyon via a cut which was a little too challenging for some members of our party, but we spit out near the Calcit Mine area, which worked out very well. Enjoyed the vistas from the top and from many points along the way in and out. We highly recommend this trail if your in Anza-Borrego. Allow a half a day (our trip was a little over 4 miles and it took 4 hrs.).
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A great moderate hike. The landscape changes dramatically every 10 minutes. The alternate route back is not to be missed. Everything that is great about Anza Borrego can be gleaned fromt his one hike (not that it should be the only one you do!)

Hellhole Canyon Photos

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Trail Information

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Nearby City
Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Tubb Canyon
Local Maps

Trail Log