Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve Trails is a 6.2 mile moderately 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.

6.2 miles
1,033 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers



over grown


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.

1 month ago

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

1 month ago

Awsome hike. I posted a 36 min video on YouTube of the full hike. Do search "hellhole canyon preserve full hike 9.25" if you want to see what it is like.

2 months ago

Not open Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday?!?

5 months ago

Nice moderate hike then gets more difficult hiking up to the peak.

6 months ago

From the parking lot to the trail loop, this trail is very well-maintained. We did the shorter loop on this hike, since it started off somewhat cool during the early morning but heated up quickly. Definitely ensure you bring lots of water, as this hike does not have much canopy cover or any in most places. Fun and interesting things to check out. Look for our pictures with our mascot, Dino the dino, with a horny toad lizard. #TheAdventureTravelers

9 months ago

We picked a perfect day to hike this trail, a day after it rained. Perfect trail for a semi cloudy cool day. Beautiful parking and nice clean restroom at the beginning of trail.
The trail was nice and clear. No trash seen, easily marked. At the beginning trail is easy, going down at the beginning, and when you get to the climbing portion it is a steep climb. We were able to get to the peaks without any issues, but boy was it a great workout to get there.
I could see that in the seasons of the heat this would be difficult. Be careful if you go hiking in the heat.

I will definitely like to return to this hiking spot.

10 months ago

Great trail but too hot this day. Didn’t get to Rodriquez peak but will next time. Definitely will do again when it’s not so hot. Going up counterclockwise is easier.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

What an amazing view at the top of the peaks. I enjoyed this hike immensely. will be back for sure!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You can really pick your poison with this one. Went early in the day but still got pretty hot by around 12pm. There's zero shade except for little random trees here and there. I enjoyed this hike even with all the ups and downs. Really great place to hike if you are looking for a workout. I didn't make my way up to either peak, but I'm definitely coming back for more. Good place overall, 4 stars because the trails were overgrown. My legs weren't covered and they got torn up.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

I enjoyed several aspects of this trail. Just went early this sat morning and only came across 2 people the entire hike. Trail winds down going in and has areas of easy followed by some loose, rocky incline and decline. Being extra water

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Not one of my favorites for a June hike. Maybe better when cooler. Very overgrown trail. Not many other hikers which was nice.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Awesome hike. Completed the paradise mountain trail to the top then to Rodriguez for the loop on 6/10/17 and had the place to ourselves. Definitely make it to the top of paradise mountain, you won't be disappointed. Trails are getting overgrown and makes watching for snakes tough (we came across 1 non-rattle). If I were going again in the near future, I'd go up and back the paradise mtn trail, but the mileage will be shorter. Some parts are easy, most is moderate, and some is a steep incline/decline in very rutted terrain. Great hike, do it!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Open FRIDAY - MONDAY 8am to sunset.

Monday, March 27, 2017

This is an awesome hike, with a pleasant surprise, a well-marked trail that was not on the list that takes you to the summit of Paradise Mountain with incredible 360 views. This extra leg of the hike I would rate moderate to hard. Bring more water if that's your plan. WARNING: Trail is only open to the public on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. We didn't know and were just very lucky!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This is an excellent hike that offers scenic views and a nice challenge if you are looking for it.

The initial descent into the canyon is a moderate downhill on a nice trail. When we reached the canyon it had quite a bit of water and people. If you are people adverse, however, fear not because that was the last time we crossed pathes with anyone. It was all up hill for us after that. We went up Rodriguez Mountain, which is a lung buster, and had lunch. Great 360 views of the surrounding areas and massive patches of wildflowers.

The descent was a little rough. the recent rains had washed out and loosen up a lot of the trail which wasn't much of a problem going up but coming down there were a few slips and falls, just have to be cautious. It is a very nice to go downhill until you reach the canyon and you have to go back up. One final leg burner and you are home free.

Overall, a nice hike to a beautiful and rewarding view.

Monday, March 13, 2017

In my opinion this is a wonderful hike. The trail is well marked with colored map placards at several intersections. I started off with the intention of completing the Hellhole Creek Trail but after checking to make sure I had more than enough water, I ended up doing the Rodriguez Mountain and Paradise Trail as well.

Adding the Rodriguez Mountain and Paradise Trail was an exceptionally good idea. The views are amazing from all directions. As you approach the summit of Rodriguez Mountain you are given the opportunity of selecting 3 viewpoints that are somewhat in the same vicinity of each other.

Atop Rodriguez Mountain you can turn back the way you came or continue onto the Paradise Trail. The Paradise trail takes you on a ridge and then gradually brings you to the Horsethief Trail. This trail intersects with Hellhole Creek Trail and takes you back to the staging area.

Adding the Rodriguez Mountain and Paradise Trails created a loop. From Staging area, through Hellhole Creek Trail, Rodriguez Mountain and Paradise Trails and then back to the staging area was 10.2 miles in total.

In my opinion this was an exceptional trail but then again, I love the outdoors. Its getting warm so please, please bring an ample amount of water with you and know your limitations.

Happy Trails to you all and remember! Not all who wander, are lost.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rocky, not particularly well marked. Nice views, waterfall

mountain biking
Thursday, July 07, 2016

I don't know how this is rated as easy. Especially if you climb up the other side which is steep and exposed. Pretty, down in the ravine.

Friday, April 15, 2016

main trail ok. go off the main trail and be prepared for a rocky walk. by the way, bees bees and more bees!!!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Twice hiked Hellhole; March 26, 2016 & December 19, 2015 and enjoyed the terrain with a great group of friends! Both times we racked up 9.50 plus hiking mileage and each time we reached Rodriguez Peak geological mark

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Complete the 3.8 mile loop, first 3/4 mile is down hill which means the last return is 3/4 mile up hill. This is more of a moderate hike than easy. Overall, worth the drive out to Valley Center. It was overcast, which was nice.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Friday was a great day go hiking I did the 3.8 mile hike

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Me and Sherpa hiking friend, Swagger completed the Paradise and Rodriquez Mountain gigantic loop, a total of 9.6-plus miles of toughness! This was a rugged long hike. The view from Rodriquez Peak, Geological Marker was amazing! You could see how far away is the trailhead, facing south and facing north you could see Valley View Casino! We started at 0830 hours and arrived back at the trailhead around 1430 hours, after numerous breaks! When we started, we only saw about 8 hikers and only 2 (father/son) did only half of the loop!I could knock this off my bucket list!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bring LOTS of water!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Very nice hike with well marked trails. It was hot, do take extra water. The preserve is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which we did not know.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Did this hike today and it was really hot, even at 9am. Probably 20 degrees warmer in the canyon then on top. Lots of loose rocks on the trail in many parts. The first mile is almost all down into the canyon and then the rest is up to you. Several different trail options. Other then the heat it was a nice hike. Just remember to save some energy because the last mile is all steep uphill and it's later in the day when it's hotter. Take a lot of water.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This is a nice hike with great mountain views. Ok for pets and kids. The incline back to the top is strenuous but the path in the valley is well marked and wide. The ground is soft dirt so it's easy on the feet. I recommend spring and fall due to the heat in summer months. Trail is closed in August due to the high temps.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This trail was tough in a good way. It gets awfully hot in the day even in February. We enjoyed this trail the only down side was if you come down from the peak on the west side of the mountain the trail is washed away and you can get lost. There are also plenty of snakes so be on lookout!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Tough hike but fantastic views from the top. I did this on a clear sunny day and only just had enough water to get around the whole loop. Start early if the sky is clear, the Valley Center area can get much hotter than other areas in San Diego and there is no shade after the initial walk down into the canyon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

We started this hike at 9am, weather was perfect. We did the whole 9ish mile loop in about 3.5 hrs. This trail is NOT easy. Not sure why this trail is rated easy, but is more intermediate to advanced type of trail. If you do the 9 mile loop, you will be climbing about 2500 ft. The trails are clearly marked, but there are many ruts and rocks on the trails. If you go to the viewpoints, it will add some distance, so our round trip was about 10.7 miles. The views are amazing! We didn't see any other hikers until we were almost back to the start, so I highly recommend this hike if you don't like crowds and really want to get away. There is plenty of free parking at the staging area and we even spoke to a host who gave us some advice about the trail. We didn't see any wildlife, aside from lizards, but there can be snakes, deer and mtn lions in the area. There are also shorter, less difficult trails to take for those not wanting anything too difficult, but either way, there is a climb back up to the staging/parking area at the end, so plan for that. Great, challenging hike up the mtn if you really like to be away from people and in the bush!

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