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Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve Trails is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Valley Center, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from September until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 6.2 mi Elevation gain 1,033 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Bugs

Over grown

Rocky

Description
Waypoints (0)
Tips

Please note: parking opening hours 8 a.m. – sunset; Fri., Sat., Sun. and Mon. (only) Hellhole Canyon can close in the summer due to extreme summer heat. Please consult the park's website before visiting. An easy hike in an area with blooming flora to enjoy. At the beginning of the hike there are signs that give you information about the area. There are a few loops or hikes you can do in the preserve so you can make your hike as long or as short as you'd like.

The man who seems to live on the property is happy to give advice should you be seeking it. There are bathrooms located at the parking lot.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (202)
Photos (208)
Recordings (160)
Completed (404)
Bill Modi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking

Great moderate trail, not too hot in morning and no one else on trail.

Christy LaLanne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 31, 2020
HikingOver grown

Not my favorite trail. We hiked a shorter loop via Canyon View Trail and looped back before heading to the peak (total 4.9 miles). The first .5 miles is downhill and decently maintained, but after crossing the creek, the trail becomes severely overgrown. I kept waiting for the trail to open back up, but it only really did when we got back to the creek again. My legs have quite a few scratches on them from all the over growth. I would skip this one.

Julie Ranuio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 18, 2020
Horseback ridingNo shadeRockyWashed out

This review applies to horseback riding. This trail is suitable for well conditioned horses and intermediate level and above riders. The descent and then ascent back out out is steep. The footing is deeply rutted and washed out in several places as well as rocky in a couple places. I would recommend boots if your horse doesn’t have shoes. Once the trail crosses the creek it is a nice ride until you begin to ascend again and that portion of the trail has a large crevice down the middle of a narrow trail. If you like a technical ride on a seasoned trail horse this is a good one. Otherwise, I don’t recommend this for a leisurely ride, green horses or beginner riders.

Kirsten Ratliff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 18, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeOver grown

The trail head has a big parking lot and bathrooms to use that actually aren't closed during this COVID stuff, so that's a bonus! As far as the trail goes, all of the initial downhill and flat part is an easy walk. There's one little creek crossing but there's a big rock there to cross so you won't get wet if you don't want to. Things to note is that there's a lot of flies on the trail which gets annoying. There's also a lot of prickly weeds with spiny pods, doesn't feel great to brush up against and kept getting them stuck on my hiking socks. Not sure if dogs are allowed on this trail but just from all the pokey weeds I would not recommend it. The horse theif part of the trail also gets overgrown. Before you start the loop up to the peak the map says to go down a little bit to the left and then back up and start the loop. I wouldn't recommend branching off to the left to take the little trail that shows the green circle with the tree on it on the map. It was probably only about .4mi but going down doesn't give you any other special view and weren't quite sure the point of it.

Jen U
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 10, 2020
RunningNo shade

I came here for trail running but ended up also hiking a lot. So if you are coming here to trail run keep in mind it may be a longer run and possibly more of a hike. The first 1 to 2 miles are the easiest and then it starts getting pretty difficult. The views are wonderful but it is steep and technical. I would advise poles if you have them and at least trail shoes with good tread and grip if you are going beyond 2 miles. Some areas are a little over grown and you will find yourself hitting against the brush but you don’t lose the trail and it is easy to follow. Also I went on a cool day but there isn’t a lot of shade and I can imagine it must get very hot, so make sure to bring enough water with you.

Bruce S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 29, 2020
Hiking

Was a nice day out on the trail but I'll point out a couple areas of concern I experienced. I did the outer loops, Rodriguez Peak/Paradise Mtn., in a clockwise direction (found out later the park recommends going counter clockwise). Due to recent rains, the trail was very rutted in most of the steep sections with lots of loose rocks. I 'd recommend aggressive soled shoes and/or trekking poles. Additionally, long sleeves/pant legs due to overgrown chaparral and tick concerns.

Paige Hensel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 8, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike with varying terrains. Had to turn around halfway or so up because our dog was pretty exhausted. Good shade towards the bottom, but direct sun the second bit makes for a hot hike. Bring lots of water!

View Paige's Recording
Nick Schmaus
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 14, 2020
Hiking

Good

View Nick's Recording
Jason Klingerman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 10, 2020
HikingNo shadeOver grown

Seeing the rocky babbling brook was my favorite part. Looking forward to doing the paradise loop next time. Make sure you are finished by sundown! I got done 10 minutes after sunset according to google (it wasn't dark yet) and I was locked in! Had to wait for someone to unlock it and reprimand me before I was free to go.

View Jason's Recording
Jan Nowak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 7, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky
View Jan's Recording
Sandrine Buntin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 5, 2020

beautiful trail. perfect even for my 5 yr old.

Haley Stephens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 31, 2019
HikingClosedWashed out

closed! only open fri sat sun mon. closed tues wed thurs. very disappointing

Erica Mills
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 29, 2019
Hiking

Not too challenging but did have some steep parts, both downhill and uphill. Trails were easy to follow and not too overgrown, at least on the parts we took :)

View Erica's Recording
Mark Offenbach
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 7, 2019
Hiking

Average trail. Well maintained but nothing spectacular

View Mark's Recording
Клей М.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 27, 2019
HikingOver grown
View Клей's Recording
Joseph Rewa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 19, 2019
HikingRockyWashed out

I arrived at 8am. First one here. Greeted by Sam the park host. Beautiful morning. Some good trail running and some steeps. Tiny bit of water here and there in the creek bed. Nicely interpretive signs posted throughout.

View Joseph's Recording
Michael Davila
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 25, 2019
HikingRockyWashed out

Did the creek trail to horse theif loop. has a very steep descent/ascent. The trail is washed out from the rain in particular areas especially on the horse theif loop. That makes it quite hard to navigate and requires attention to ensure you don't fall during the descent. However the views, landscape, and hike itself is worthwhile and is a great workout!

Tammany Mills
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 28, 2019
Hiking

This is a very interesting hike. Two distinct experiences, hiking and scrambling over boulders. This hike gets very hot! Bring tons of water & a hat. I have hiked several times.

Nick Kielb
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 3, 2019
Hiking

bummer to find out it was not open on Wednesday after driving an hour to get there. crap! looked like a nice trail though. so dont let my one star of disappointment discourage your hike

Rosalee Clanton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 1, 2019

Perfect in the winter.

Veronica Gonzales
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 28, 2018
Hiking

We did hell creek trail to horse thief loop, about 4 miles. Beautiful hike, steep downhill in, step uphill out. Clean well maintained trails.

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