Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls

Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 33.23684°N / 116.44069°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 30, 0000


Hellhole Canyon sits to the west of Borrego Springs in southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. A trail goes up the canyon to a grove of palm trees. Further bushwhacking can take you to a seasonal waterfall known as Maidenhair Falls. When I was in the area, I saw no sign of running water. You could potentially hike further up the canyon to Culp Valley or up the slopes of San Ysidro Mountain but my guidebook says beyond the falls, the bushwhacking becomes extreme.

Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls
Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls

Getting There

From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive 1.5 miles west on Route S-22 to where the road makes a 90 degree turn to the left. Follow the road less than a mile until you see a dirt road and trailhead on the right just before S-22 begins to go up the mountains.


880 ft
zero miles
Grove of palms
1500 ft
2.20 miles
Maidenhair Falls
1760 ft
0.3 miles
2.5 miles

The trailhead is common to Hellhole Canyon and California Riding and Hiking Trail. Indianhead Peak is in good view.

Indianhead PeakIndianhead Peak

Looking up the canyon.

Looking up Hellhole CanyonHellhole Canyon

Follow the trail up toward the canyon. After 0.3 miles, California Riding and Hiking Trail splits to the left. Continue straight.

Near trailhead
Near Trailhead

You will then see three piles of rock resembling graves with a sign saying “they didn’t bring enough water”.

On Hellhole Canyon Trail

As you keep going, the canyon begins to form.

Begining of Hellhole Canyon
Begining of Hellhole Canyon
Begining of Hellhole Canyon
Begining of Hellhole Canyon

Palm trees appear.

Hellhole Canyon Palms
Hellhole Canyon Palms

A few deciduous trees can also be seen.

Deciduous Trees among the palms
Deciduous trees among the palms

You will then reach a palm tree grove. The trail becomes much less defined beyond this point. Continuing will require some degree of bushwhacking.

Bushwhacking among the palms
Bushwhacking among the palms
Palm tree grove
Palm tree grove
Palm tree grove
Palm tree grove

When I was in the area, no water was present. I went beyond the GPS coordinates of Maidenhair Falls and obviously saw no waterfall. Ended my hike at the base of a cliff/boulders where moss covered some of the boulders and the soil was moist. This might have actually been Maidenhair Falls.

Near Maidenhair Falls
Moss near Maidenhair FallsMoss

When to Hike

Winter, late autumn or early spring. Summer can be dangerously hot.

External Links

Guidebook: The Anza-Borrego Desert Region by Lowell & Diana Lindsay.



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