If you've travelled along Highway 401 in Eastern Ontario with any regularity, you've probably noticed the blue tourist attraction sign for 'Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves' as you approach the Centre Street/County Road 41 exit in Napanee. Admit it, it’s a catchy name that’s easy to remember.
If you haven’t yet followed the signs to Hell Holes Nature Trails in Lennox & Addington County, you're missing out on an interesting visit to a unique geological area of Eastern Ontario.
Hell Holes is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Ronald and Evelyn Storring. The property has been in the Storring family since the 1940s, and has been open to the public as a tourist attraction since 1994. Since this time, Hell Holes has hosted tens of thousands of visitors from throughout Canada and around the world.
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I recently had a chance to visit Hell Holes and hike along the 3.2 km trail. After a pleasant and informative chat with Evelyn at the Log Cabin Snack Bar & Gift Shop, I picked up a map and my way to the trail.
After just a short distance into the hike, I was amazed at how quickly the physical features changed all around me. Trail markers highlighted specific areas of interest, including a very impressive natural stone bridge and a criss-crossing gorge with over-hanging ledges, grottos, mushroom shaped rocks and sinkholes. Pillar Rock and Devil’s Horsestable Cave are two cool highlights found along the route.
About a kilometre into the hike I reached the attraction's namesake - the infamous 'Hell Hole'. While initially I wasn't nervous about making the decent underground, I admit that when peering down into the opening, the thought of skipping this section of the visit crossed my mind.
In the end I decided to go for it. I turned on my flashlight app and slowly made my way down the ladder. A thermometer placed at the hole’s entrance showed it was a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius outside. By the time I made it down the 7.5 metres to the bottom of the ladder and into the 2.5 x 3.5 metre underground cavern, the temperature had dropped to a chilly 4 degrees. I figured that it would be cooler below ground, but I was surprised it was such a huge decrease.
After a few minutes of subterranean exploration, I made my way back to the surface and continued along on my enjoyable hike.
Hell Holes Nature Trails & Caves is located at 420 Barrett Road in Stone Mills Township. It legitimately fits the bill as a unique destination for those that enjoy authentic outdoor experiences. It is open 7 days a week from 10am – 5 pm throughout the summer. For more information be sure to visit www.ruralroutes.com/hellholes.