Hells Gate Trail

HARD 31 reviews
#1 of 2 trails in

Hells Gate Trail is a 16 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
15.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,339 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

bird watching

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

hiking
2 days ago

The trail was 7.5 miles to the creek so 15 miles round trip. I went with my kids who are 11, 13, and 15 and we did the round trip in 7 hours with almost exactly 3 hours in, 1 hour break and play at the creek and 3 hours out. I would definitely do it again. We passed 11 total people but the weather is perfect and the views were serene. Like others said, the gravel for the last mile is steep and slippery!!! Be careful! Other than that, perfect Saturday hike!

hiking
rocky
8 days ago

I did a over nighter with my two dogs in mid April. You couldn't ask for better weather. It took us about 4 hours each way with a 40 lb pack. Expect the climb out to be a bit tougher. The hike was beautiful and starts in the forest then leads you slowly into high desert then down into a slot canyon. The last 1\4 mile is steep and full of loose rocks so take your time and watch your step because your legs will already be tired. The pay off is at the bottom of the canyon where there is a river, sand, and deep swimming hole. We set out on a Monday and did not see anyone until we got back on the road where i had parked my truck. I will definitely be doing this trip again.

backpacking
22 days ago

More sun exposure than expected. First water is a cow tank a good ways into the hike. The last decent into the hole was rocky and steep. I would recommend trekking poles.

28 days ago

A lot of beautiful views on this trail. The first 4.3 miles are easy; it's on a wide dirt road, which occasionally gets narrower but is always fairly smooth and well-maintained. There are 15 stream crossings, and a lot of great overlooks. After passing the Tonto National Forest sign, the 2.5 mile descent begins. This is also easy until the final 0.4 mile down into the gorge. The river at the bottom is beautiful and peaceful with a lot of great photo ops. The hike back up to the top is tougher than expected, and gave us a decent workout overall. The entire trail is 14 miles round trip (not 16) and took about 7 hours.

surfing
10 months ago

Good hike, did in and out in one day. It was somewhat challenging but nothing too strenuous. I’ve now done this as a day hike 5 times, I guess the reason I keep going back is that I rarely see anyone there. I don’t recommend this for anyone who is not physically fit, the sign at the beginning of the trailhead May sound ominous but it’s there for a reason, make sure you pay attention to it. If you don’t possess the physical ability then this isn’t the right trail for you. BTW- I’m not sure where the 16 mile description comes from but this is closer to 20 miles round trip.

hiking
11 months ago

This trail is great, the views along the hike are excellent and the reward when you get to the end is amazing. It does have some challenging parts but the trail is short enough that as long as you remember it isn't a race it really isn't too bad and then at the end of it you get to go for a nice refreshing swim in the cool deep pools. I can't recommend this trail enough if you are looking for an overnight trip.

backpacking
11 months ago

Phenomenal. I haven't backpacked in a while. My legs were definitely feeling the climb out! Every step of this hike is beautiful. From the pines at the top to the stunning desert to the riparian area at the bottom. There was definitely no water along the way. I brought a gallon in with me and back out. I didn't drink it all, but any less would have been foolish. It was very warm, in the 80s. I will be back to do it again!

backpacking
Thursday, February 22, 2018

My friend and I did this trail and it was incredible! I will say that navigation can be confusing, so study the maps given by the state as well. You have to take some other trails to get to the 37 trail. We went during the week and solitude was serene. I will do it again and soon!

hiking
Monday, December 25, 2017

Really not that hard. Beautiful hike with a great treat at the end. The two rivers converge and there is plenty of water and photo ops

backpacking
Tuesday, August 08, 2017

This trail is not for beginners! I did it as an overnight in August and enjoyed it immensely. Hikers should be highly aware of snakes (heard a rattler right outside my tent down in the canyon), wasps, and the heat. The water was dark brown in the creek, wonderful to swim in, and good for drinking as long as you have proper water purification. DO NOT attempt this trail during the rainy season--after mile 5 (out of 8.5 one-way), you descend 3k feet into Hell's Canyon and camp next to the creek, which would be deadly if the water were to suddenly rise from flash flooding. The trail has a lot of scree and is pretty exposed, so you're doing it in August heat like me, make sure to soak your clothing/hat at every opportunity and drink lots of electrolytes. Last but not least--trekking poles are highly recommended! When you do this trail, you can say you've been to the gates of Hell and back! :)

hiking
Sunday, July 09, 2017

I did this as an overnight hike over Easter weekend. only 2 reasons for 4 instead of 5 stars first the distance on this site as well as the signs at the TH are wrong and it is in fact closer to 8.5mi one way. The second complaint is that in some areas it becomes quite difficult to see the trail and the cairns were few and far too far between. This trail is all about the destination, I spent the night under the stars at the confluence and couldn't have asked for a prettier view. I would only recommend this trail to experienced hikers who come prepared with trekking poles and a method of water purification.

backpacking
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Challenging hike, the mileage on this app is not accurate, it's about 8 miles one way. Bring plenty of water and prepare for a rewarding experience!!

hiking
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Went in doing a day hike. Did 5 miles in. Definitely will go back. The views were beautiful. Bring enough water. The uphill and downhill on the rocks can be a little tricky. So worth it!

hiking
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

We only went in about 3 miles as we were not really prepped for a long 2-day hike. But, it was truly fabulous and I can't wait to do this hike properly!

Monday, June 20, 2016

One Hell of a hike. Ran out of water half way back and temps were much hotter in the wilderness than in Payson. Wow, a serious hike and not for beginners or unprepared hikers. Camped at the creek! Definitely worth the near death experience.

hiking
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tough and Hot trail not for a beginner. But once you get there the water is worth it. We camped where the two creeks meet. Nice water holes and a few little water falls. Temp was around 95 Degrees F.

hiking
21 days ago

hiking
21 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

backpacking
9 months ago

Load More