We decided to go for a summer road trip and spend the day together doing things that we loved…exploring forests, caves, and eating yummy food! A long while ago, I saw a sign at the side of the highway that said “Hell Holes Nature Trails” without knowing anything about it. It has a pretty cool name and I discovered that it was a very intriguing and different site to visit. Essentially, it is a cave in the middle of a forest where you descend down a ladder into the ground to enter it. Awesome! We thought it would be a great idea to check it out, as well as some other local attractions in the area!
We left bright and early in the morning with a quick stop off the highway to purchase a flashlight. We knew we would need a flashlight down in the cave, since there wouldn’t be much natural light down there! And as it turned out, we didn’t own a flashlight. As we were buying the flashlight, it started to absolutely pour rain outside. We were hoping that the rain might let up a little bit so we could enjoy our forest walk a little bit more, but we weren’t about to let this wreck our plans! By the time we reached Hell Holes in Napanee, the rain had completely stopped and the sun even came out! Hooray!
We got to Hell Holes and went to the Nature Centre, where we paid a small fee of $7 per person to enter the trails. The lady behind the counter provided us with a printed map and described the sights we would see along our journey. She asked if we brought a flashlight, which we did because I read about that online before we left. They did have flashlights there to borrow just in case anyone forgot to bring one. She also asked if we brought bug spray. I didn’t read anything online about needing bug spray, so we didn’t even think of that. Thankfully, she had some bug spray out on the counter that we were able to borrow. She seemed to think that we were crazy for not bringing any bug spray, and we would soon figure out why.
The forest was absolutely gorgeous. It was so peaceful when we embarked on our walk with not another person in sight. Everything was just so green. The sun had emerged from behind the clouds and was shining through the leaves. Bright green moss was growing on all of the rocks and it was so interesting to see how the tree roots grew around the boulders, still supporting the tree limbs.
We reached the Devil’s Horses Stable Cave, which we were no longer able to enter. Legends say that Satan used to stable his horses here, hence the name. It used to be a cavern that descended deep into the Earth’s surface, but it collapsed in the early 1900s and has been permanently closed for safety reasons. It was still a neat place to stop and admire the shapes of the rocks.
A very short distance later was the main attraction – a ladder descending straight into a hole in the ground with a sign above marked “Hell Hole”. I have to admit, when we arrived I actually felt a bit anxious! The ladder going into a small hole in the ground was rather intimidating, and who knows what was down there!
Within moments, we heard voices coming up from down in the hole…the voices of young kids! As it turned out, a family with three young children were already down in the cave and shortly after we arrived, they came back up. And these were pretty young kids – two boys and a girl – who absolutely loved the adventure of being down inside the cave! They came up out of the ground first and were very friendly and happy about their trip. I told the kids that I was a little bit scared, and they told me that there was nothing to be scared about! I figured….well, if these young kids aren’t afraid, then it would be silly if I were! Needless to say, I still made Justin head down into the cave first.
We made it! We descended 7.5 metres into the cave and reached the bottom. At first, it seemed a little bit narrow, but we were able to walk along and the cave opened up into a larger room. We were very glad that we brought the flashlight or else it would have been pitch black down there!
In the larger room inside the cavern, there was a thermometer that showed just how cool it was down there. It was a humid, summer day outside above ground, but down below, it was only about 8 degrees Celsius! Good thing we brought our sweaters!
We emerged back up to the surface after spending some time down in the cave. We continued along our hike in the forest towards a natural stone bridge, which we crossed before descending down into a valley.
The forest was surrounded by giant limestone boulders covered in lush greenery and moss, and there were tall trees all around. Ferns grew between the rocks and it was almost like being in a humid tropical rainforest.
The layers of rocks stacked on top of one another were huge! We looked up and all around as we trekked through the forest. Soon, we approached Pillar Rock.
Pillar Rock was an intriguing formation, where the boulder was shaped so larger parts were balanced on columns of rock. Nature can be so amazing and incredible! We continued our hike through the forest, swamp land, and continuing trails along the 3.2km long path.
Now, once we descended down into the valley, the bug population seemed to increase. We did spray ourselves with the bug spray, but maybe some of it had worn off or we didn’t spray enough of it. There were pesky bugs everywhere! They seemed to really like Justin’s dark hoodie and clung to his back like crazy. We were constantly swatting the bugs away while we were walking. At one point, I made the mistake of informing Justin that there were at least 30 bugs stuck to his back, and he took off running down the trail, hoping to get rid of them. It was pretty entertaining to see him flailing his arms all around! We tried our best to ignore these annoying little creatures and made the best of the rest of the walk. Next time: bring bug spray or some sort of deterrent and use often!
We reached an Inukshuk in a clearing in the middle of the forest that appears to have been fairly recently erected. It was very fitting that there was a huge monument with stones stacked on top of one another, where much of the forest has similar natural structures!
We reached the end of the trail, shook our sweaters off to rid ourselves of any remaining bugs, and continued along our way! It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day for our anniversary!