San Diego Trail Tramps - Scheduled Hikes for 2011

  Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve

Date: June 19, 2011  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:
San Diego Trail Tramps
Info. URL:
Hellhole Cyn. Open Space Preserve Brochure
10-12 miles NE of Escondido, near Valley Center
1867-acre Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve, a nature lover's dream, (NOT to be confused with Hellhole Canyon out in the desert near Borrego Springs), is located east of Valley Center. For more detailed directions on how to get there, check out our Maps of the area. The GPS co-ordinates for the staging area/trail head are: N 33 degrees 12’  59.6” , W 116 degrees 56’ 02.9” , 2055 ft. Car pools will depart San Diego by 9:00 am. Target time to meet at the trail head is 10:30 am. The hike will be led by two of our members who are both nature docents there at the Preserve.

Today's hike will take us down, thru stands of manzanita and silver sage, along a scruffy ridgeline to the canyon bottom, where Hell Creek flows after winter and early spring rainfalls. There, water spills over smooth boulders under a canopy of spreading live oaks and twisted sycamores. The trail then joins an old, rock-lined canal bed and passes through one of the most charming oak glens in the whole county, where succulent live-forevers cling to the crumbling canal walls.

The trail sticks with the old canal, which rises across a sunny, chaparral-covered slope, then veers uphill away from the canal to a point where multiple trail options are available from a well-posted sign. One trail climbs and traverses the northwest shoulder of 3886-foot Rodriguez Mountain to the east. On the lower trail, we'll traverse a grassy slope, then descend back to the canal bed for a short while, then descend to Hell Creek right at the point where a large metal pipe crosses over. This "inverted siphon" canal shunts water from the San Luis Rey River over to Lake Wohlford, which lies on the Escondido Creek watershed.

Hiking distance will be about 5.0 miles roundtrip and take about 3 hours, plus breaktimes. Elevation gain/loss is a steep 700'/700'. The flora, fauna and great North County vistas/views await! For more detailed info. on the area, refer to "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" by J.Schad, 1998 Edition, Area C-2 Escondido, Trip 7, pp.62-64.

After the hike, our two hike leaders will be hosting a pool party at their home nearby. Please refer to our hike reminder group email for details.

Below are some photos from one of our hikes there, in February of 1999.