Features: Lake — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Wildflowers
Dogs: No Dogs
Don’t let the name fool you. The Hell for Sure Trail crosses beautiful country and is not especially difficult. I believe it is no longer maintained, but this was not a problem when I took it in 2014.
One way to incorporate the Hell for Sure Trail into a long loop would be to reach it from Florence Lake, via the Thompson and Burnt Corral trails and to return via the Goddard Canyon, John Muir, and Florence Lake trails. You could make this loop shorter and more exciting by taking the Reddy's Hole Trail from Thompson Pass to join the Hell for Sure Trail near Rae Lake. However, I believe the Reddy's Hole Trail is not maintained and may be difficult to follow.
I started from Wishon Resovoir, took the Crown Valley and Blue Canyon trails, and continued off-trail over Blue Canyon and Reinstein passes and reached the eastern end of the Hell for Sure via the Goddard Canyon Trail
. I then made my way over Hell for Sure Pass and back to Courtright Reservoir.
The western end of Hell for Sure Trail starts where the Post Corral Trail crosses Post Corral Creek. Starting from 8000 feet, it climbs over 1400 feet in the first 2 miles. After that, the climb is much more moderate except for the pass itself. Even the climb up from Hell for Sure Lake is not as steep as it appears on the map. The switchbacks are so short and tight that there is no way to show them on a map. Snow may linger late on the steep northwest side of the pass, which would make it much more difficult.
Rae Lake, Disappointment Lake, and Hell for Sure Lake have great campsites. A short branch trail leads to Devil's Punchbowl and its surrounding lakes. From Hell for Sure Lake, an easy off-trail route leads to Horseshoe and Arctic Lakes
The walls of Goddard Canyon are very steep, so the trail runs parallel to the Goddard Canyon Trail
, but high above it, for nearly 3 miles until it makes the final descent. There is a lot of up and down in this section, but there are spectacular 180-degree views of Goddard Canyon and the surrounding peaks.
In 2014, there was no sign marking the Hell for Sure Trail on the eastern side. Instead, look for two very large cairns, one on each side of the trail.