We discovered this stunning canyon called Cehennem Deresi Canyon on our way into Ardanuç and decided we would come back to next morning to explore it further.
We stopped for lunch on the way into town and go talking to these lovely locals from the high school and they told us that Cehennem Deresi Canyon was actually Turkish for “Hell’s Creek Canyon” because they had thrown some soldiers down into it during Turkey’s war of independence. Blood ran down the walls of the canyon, hence its name.
We first hiked just a few minutes into Cehennem Deresi Canyon when we first passed it. The next morning we decided we would hike for a few hours into the canyon. Little did we know, that is not possible!
You can only hike a few kilometers at most.
The first part of the walk we found quite fun as we had to climb up some rocks and boulders and scramble up some wooden blocks and gradually climb higher into the canyon. After a few minutes, the hike levels out and the trees and bushes appear. The path then got a little bit slippery from the rain the night before, until we got a little deeper into the canyon.
Suddenly it opened up and the walls soared above us. It was quite the spectacle. The path seemed to peter out at this point and we saw they were working on a staircase and walkway that leads out of the canyon. It was blocked by some rocks but seemed 99% complete.
So, instead, we continued into the canyon up some more rocks and saw that it was a dead end! Unless you are a serious rock climber, there is no way through.
Back to the new stairway cut into the rock wall! We climbed over the barrier rocks and pulled ourselves up to the top of the hewn rock path cut out of the wall with a well-made barrier on the side. It is a pretty cool path. Similar to a hike I have done in Switzerland in the Uina Canyon. These guys had done some serious work to carve this path out of the rock.
The problem was, as they are still completing it – it comes to an end.
But, I noticed some stairs up in a cave above and a rope you could use to get to them.
Note: You can see in the image above a dark cave at the top. There was a plastic rope dropped over the dirt along the left you could use to get into the cave where there were some serious metal staircases! Anna was not up for it, so I went on my own.
It seems the path out of the canyon will lead to a viewpoint and it is 80-90% complete. I got up to the staircase and all the way out of the canyon to where the viewpoint is being constructed. It is a serious piece of construction and I have no clue how they got these massive staircases up into the cave. Especially since the path is cut into the rock and then you have to almost climb to the cave above.
Anyway, knowing Anna was worried below, I quickly returned and we made our way back to the van. Stopping to take a few more epic pictures of the canyon along the way back!
The walk was shorter than we had imagined – around 3km and about 45 minutes
Note: there is some weird sign outside the canyon that says 16km to a restaurant – no clue what that is referring to. We thought maybe the walk was 16km, but that is not possible.
As of June 2023, the hike is not quite complete into Cehennem Deresi Canyon, but you can still do a short walk to the dead end. After that, the rest is up to you. I would not recommend what I did, but maybe the stairs and so forth are complete by the time you get there!
Hiking and and back again should only take 30-45 minutes or less. If you include the new staircase, that might add another 30 minutes once it is done. It is quite the climb out of the canyon, so be prepared for heights, exposure, and slippery surfaces.
Wear good shoes or hiking boots if you can, especially if it has rained.
It is actually quite easy to get to the entrance of Cehennem Deresi Canyon. There is a large car park on the left-hand side of the road as you are driving from Artvin to Ardanuç. They are still completing parts of the car park and hike into the canyon but you can still visit it today.
From Artvin, it takes around 50 minutes to drive. And from Şavşat it is around 55 minutes. The drive from Artvin is a lot easier, as the road gets narrower and more full of trucks as you head towards Şavşat. We actually saw them fishing a truck out of the dam while we were driving past on the way to Şavşat, nd the rescuers told us the driver had fallen asleep and driven into the river. It is a drive with some dangers!