Hell Canyon

Granby, Colorado 80446

Hell Canyon

Hell Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"This is a rigorous day hike or overnighter into Hell Canyon, a steep glacial valley in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Near the southern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hell Canyon is very aptly named, a fact that becomes clear to anyone hiking up the unmarked trail that climbs to a saddle leading into Rocky Mountain National Park. Still, this is a hike well worth taking. Hell Canyon, as it rises above Buchanan Creek, cuts deeply into the landscape of this semi-primitive area where wildlife abounds.

Follow the Cascade Creek Trail along the northeastern shore of Monarch Lake past the Forest Service cabin, then southeast to the trail register at the east end of Monarch Lake. From the register continue 2 miles along Buchanan Creek to the intersection with the first major drainage from the north. This is Hell Canyon. The trail begins about 100 yards before a bridge. This spot, marked by an old charred tree stump, is where you want to leave the Cascade Creek Trail to head up the unmarked Hell Canyon Trail."

Hell Canyon Reviews

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This is a nice backpacking trip but it is challenging with some very steep areas and some unmarked places, so be prepared for sore knees and losing the trail from time to time. The upper canyon and the lakes are amazing and absolutely worth it. So beautiful!
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After failing to complete the loop coming from Gourd Lake on June 25th, we decided to try again. This time, we came in from the Roaring Fork Trail. The route was very difficult in some places, but there were enough level sections that it is doable. The climb to Cooper Pass was a little tough with crossing the snow fields and loose rocks, but it was definitely exciting. I would highly recommend this hike for anyone who wants a challenge. Beautiful lakes and views along the way.
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An unplanned trip down Hell Canyon. We came in above Crawford Lake, got cliffed out below the Roaring Fork Trail after losing the trail in the snow. Camped at Crawford, very little snow this year at this time. There's a good spot with a fire ring. Next day went out Hell Canyon, didn't find trail at all until Long Lake, then kept losing it & finding it. Spring runoff made this more interesting. Finally found chainsaw marks. LOTS of trees down over the trail. Some spots are very exposed especially next to the high-flowing creek (!!!). Incredible views, worth the trip but extremely strenuous even going downhill. Wish they would maintain the trail.
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This is a beautiful, but rigorous trail to hike. I believe it gains 1900 feet of elevation in about 4 miles.The trail traverses a cascading creek with many pretty waterfalls. Along the way are many boulders strewn along the path that are the size of small houses. Bring your fishing pole because when you top out to a high meadow, there are a few deep pools filled with brook trout to catch. The reward at the canyon end is magnificent Stone lake which offers many a level place to pitch your tent in a nice grassy area. Near the inlet end of Stone lake is its namesake..A huge house sized square shaped stone sits nestled among the lodgepole pines next to the inlet. Stone lake is just below timberline. Bonus! about .2 of a mile northeast of Stone lake sits Upper lake. A shallow lake just above timberline at 10730 feet in elevation that features cutthroat trout. I caught some nice sized Cutthroat in both lakes as well as in the creek below the lake that trip. Not recommended for horses. Hikers who are not in decent shape beware because of the difficult and steep terrain. Also, there are a lot of deadfall (downed trees) across the trail in places. However, this location seems to be less traveled than the more popular cascade creek trail leading to Crater lake and Lone Eagle peak, equally rewarding scenery IMHO.

Hell Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
3,000 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Arapaho National Forest, Sulphur Ranger District (970) 887-4100
Local Contacts
Monarch Lake and Isolation Peak USGS quads; Arapaho National Forest Map, Trails Illustrated Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018