Hell Hole Trail is a 2.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Foresthill, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Directions from Georgetown: Travel 15 miles east on Wentworth Springs Road, turn north on Eleven Pines Road. Continue 45 miles to Hell Hole dam.
There is nothing easy about this trail. Be in good health if you are thinking about attempting this hike. We hiked the south trail and went past the end of the reservoir and camped past the first waterfall and pool. We checked out Kada Falls the next day which was even still further. As far as the trail is concerned, it is difficult. The only easy part is crossing the dam. The trail has steep climbs and is overgrown, parts of which have to be crossed by climbing over fallen trees. We lost the trail for a bit but reconnected further up. We had solitude as no one was out there over the weekend not even off roaders. And the effort was more than worth it. The waterfalls past the reservoir are awesome! Pack light and bring mosquito spray because they are deadly. DON'T forget water! Going down to the reservoir to get water is not an option while on the trail Even on the way back we lost the trail right before the dam and had to back track. The reservoir is not pretty and the trail is tough but the payoff for camping in a location like this is priceless. Will post photos soon.
This trail is better by boat. That is to say, take a canoe or flat water kayak and explore the shores of the lake. Hell Hole is one of the few reservoirs that qualifies as beautiful, particularly when filled to close to the reservoir maximum pool elevation. This reservoir is also located so far from Sacramento that the typical reservoir crowd is not inclined to travel here. Beautiful lakes and solitude are a rare combination in California, so if you are looking for those things, this is the place. But be prepared for the long drive, and don't get caught in the afternoon winds that can make life miserable if you are in a small boat.
A hell of a hole to get out of. This trail is very strenuous. There are tons of beautiful views and the campground at the end of the trail is fantastic. Plenty of natural water sources along the trail. Several places along the trail it was tough to know which way to go but keep an eye out for trail tape and rock cairns. I can't imagine taking this trail on a year with a lot of snowmelt...in this dry year there was some rough water crossings.
What Drew said is still true. The trail is overgrown in some areas, there are plenty of cairns but some of them seem random. There are a number of areas where run off crosses the trail. Make sure you have waterproof boots. Those run offs get deeper and faster as the sun climbs.
I only made it about a 3rd of the way around. If you go with a dog you may not be able to get them past some of the water. Others you might need to carry them over.
Tough climb on a barely there trail. Still a lot of fun and will return but without my dog.
This trail refers to the 5 mile trail that follows the southeastern shore of the Hell Hole Reservoir. There is another trail on the northern shore also called the Hell Hole Trail, but that is a jeep trail. I hiked both of these trails while completing a loop around the reservoir. The true Hell Hole Trail was not in the best shape and it appeared to be at least 5-10 years since it was last maintained. The trail starts to disappear at the Upper Hell Hole Campground, where there are park benches. From the campground there is no discernible trail that connects to the "Hell Hole" jeep trail. Instead, there are some scattered cairns with no pattern or direction. The route crosses both the upper Rubicon River and Five Lakes Creek. In May, I walked over both on the trunks of large fallen trees. Once across Five Lakes Creek, there is more route finding to get to the jeep trail. The route was obvious once on the jeep trail (=rough dirt road). This circumnavigation of the Hell Hole Reservoir is only for experienced route finders.