Highway to Hell - Hell Hole 4x4 Trail - NORCAL (1 Viewer)

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Buddy and I just came back from a really cool 2-day trip on the Hell Hole trail. Been reading up about this trail for a while and finally were able to make it happen! In my opinion and experience, this was a really tough trail. It will really test the limits of you and your rig. Hell Hole trail runs along the north side of Hell Hole reservoir and ends at the shores of the lake. It is seriously out in the middle of nowhere. After leaving Foresthill we didn't see any cars on the road the entire time. If you get in trouble out here, you're screwed. It was eerily silent the whole time we were there. My book describes the trail as:

A long drive to a short, but terrific hardcore trail. Ends at a very secluded spot along the shores of little-used but impressive, Hell Hole Reservoir. Difficult. Narrow and steep with challenging rock ledges. Not for stock vehicles. High ground clearance, large tires and at least one locker recommended. Help is a long way off. Don't go alone.

And they weren't kidding! Trail is only 4 miles long but challenging. Trail is very narrow and you need to come out the same way you went in. Going in is downhill. Coming out is uphill.

After what seemed like being on the road for hours we finally came upon French Meadows reservoir. This has been an extremely dry year in CA. You can see what the lack of rain has done to our reservoirs.





About 15 miles more and finally reached the Hell Hole trailhead! There's an abandoned forest ranger station right at the start of the trail. Looks like nobody's been in there for years. About a 1/2 mile into the trail you're greeted with the official sign. "Jeep trail"? We'll show them...



Hell Hole reservoir looked even worse than French Meadows. Drained down to a puddle. The 4x4 trail dumps you wayyyy out in the back where all you see is dirt.



2 miles in is where you come across the first real challenge(s). A series of downhill rock gardens that never seem to end.









Rock sliders are important



This trail will make your truck flex until it can flex no more





















 
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This about where the rock gardens end so it's time for truck selfies







You get a short break on some easy driving then it gets hard again at mile 3. Here start the really steep ledges, waterfalls and staircases that proceed all the way to the shore of the lake.

















After taking 2.5hrs to go 4 miles we finally reached the lake! Or where a lake should have been. Water levels were extremely low. This side of the lake was reduced to a trickle of water that was feeding into what was left of the reservoir. Would be nice to see this thing in all its glory one day. Exploring the empty lake basin was really cool. Almost like being on another planet. With the water gone, you're left with a King of the Hammers type playground if you have the right rig for it.



Toyotas in the Wild





You could have some serious fun here with a rock buggy





The sun-bleached rocks showing you where the water levels USED to be. Incredible.

 
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You really can't relax because you know you have the hardest portion of the trail left; going uphill on everything you came down on. It's the only way out. There's no bypass or emergency exits if you break something. And as luck would have it, that's exactly what we did....break something.

Early the next morning we started up on the series of staircases



Took the idiot line and got caught up on the rear diff



But it did give me the chance to see the 37" Grapplers fully stuffed in my fender





And here's where the day just got a whole lot more interesting. Less than a half mile into the trail up my buddy gave it a little bit too much gas when he got to this top ledge. POP!!!! I heard the unmistakable sound of an axle break. F#CK. Good thing he brought 2 spare axles. Now it was just a matter of limping to the top and finding some flat ground. And shade.







F#cking IFS





After about an hour or so we were back on the trail. Eager to hit pavement. All we had to do was get past the rest of the ledges and the rock garden at the end.













And that was it! The rest was uneventful. Aired up, connected the sway bar back on and mind the coma-inducing long drive back home. Till next time :cheers:
 
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JohnVee

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Spinal Tap said it well: "It's better in a Hell Hole". Great write up, Jose. I wish we had anything remotely like that in NC.
 

orangefj45

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Great write- up and pics. Can't believe anybody would want to bring an IFS rig in there. But sounds like you guys were well prepared.
Hopefully we'll get more water this season. Then i'd love to go run the trail again.
Georg @ Valley Hybrids
 
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Spinal Tap said it well: "It's better in a Hell Hole". Great write up, Jose. I wish we had anything remotely like that in NC.
Awesome photos thanks for sharing!!
Awesome post. Great pictures with a decent camera too.
every pic is a treat :popcorn: to watch ;) .... lovely pics ...... :cheers:

Thanks guys :cheers:

Great write- up and pics. Can't believe anybody would want to bring an IFS rig in there. But sounds like you guys were well prepared.
Hopefully we'll get more water this season. Then i'd love to go run the trail again.
Georg @ Valley Hybrids

Thanks Georg! I really like this trail. Short but challenging. Haven't done the really long trails like Rubicon but the length of this one seems about right. Wheel for a few hours, relax and camp then wheel out and go home. I think any IFS rig can run this trail as long as it has decent ground clearance and at least one locker. Armor is important too of course :)

Love Hell Hole!

What'd you run it in?
 
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Thanks guys :cheers:



Thanks Georg! I really like this trail. Short but challenging. Haven't done the really long trails like Rubicon but the length of this one seems about right. Wheel for a few hours, relax and camp then wheel out and go home. I think any IFS rig can run this trail as long as it has decent ground clearance and at least one locker. Armor is important too of course :)



What'd you run it in?
I was passenger in a FJC on 33's. We got a semi stock Tacoma on 31's through with a snatch up the main drop off where the tree is.

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