One last side-trail branches from the CRHT one mile short of the end of the hike (7 miles from the Jasper starting point), where remnants of the original cattle trail can be followed to the right, eventually coming out at S-22 about 0.75 mile above the Hellhole Canyon parking area. A brown and yellow CRHT post marks this point. Looking out over the Borrego Valley, the ABDSP Visitor Center and Colorado Desert District Headquarters buildings are the closest structures seen from here.
After negotiating the last few switchbacks, the trail emerges into the flats of lower Hellhole Canyon. Turning left will lead into the canyon on the popular trail to Maidenhair Falls, a trip best saved for another visit. The parking area is 0.3 mile to the east.
CRHT TO ANZA-BORREGO’S HELLHOLE CANYON
Distance from downtown San Diego: 75 miles to the upper trailhead at Jasper Trail; 79 miles to the middle trailhead at Culp Valley Primitive Camp; 85 miles to the lower trailhead at the Hellhole Canyon parking area. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours driving time, depending on trailhead used (Anza-Borrego Desert State Park). From the junction of SR-67/78 in Ramona, drive east on SR-78, 27 miles to Santa Ysabel. Turn left (north) on SR-79 and drive 11 miles to the junction with S-2/San Felipe Rd., and turn right (southeast). Drive 4.5 miles on S-2 to the junction with S-22/Montezuma Highway and turn left (east). Drive 6.8 miles on S-22, 1.7 miles east of the Ranchita Store, to the upper trailhead on north side of S-22 across from the Jasper Trail sign. The Culp Valley trailhead departs from Culp Valley Primitive Camp, which is on the north side of S-22, 5.7 miles east of Ranchita and about 7 miles west of Borrego Springs. The lower trailhead at the entrance to Hellhole Canyon parking area is on the west side of S-22, 11.5 miles east of Ranchita and about 1 mile north of the junction with Palm Canyon Dr. in Borrego Springs.
Hiking length: 8 miles one-way from Jasper Trail, 5 miles one-way from Culp Valley Primitive Camp to lower Hellhole Canyon. Optional side trips to Pena Spring, Culp Valley Lookout (use trail) and Lookout Point (cross-country) will add an additional 1.5 to 2 miles.
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous with 500 feet of elevation gain and 3700 feet of elevation loss (over 1000 feet of elevation gain and 4200 feet of elevation loss with side trips). Facilities at Culp Valley Primitive Camp and lower Hellhole Canyon trailhead. No water available at the trailheads. Pena Spring is located off trail northeast of Culp Valley but should not be relied upon for water. Dogs and mountain bikes not allowed. If camping en route, bring a small stove for cooking. No open fires permitted at any time, except in Culp Valley Primitive Camp, where fires must be in a metal container.