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Michigan Camping and Travel: On the Sidewalks of Hell

Updated on August 26, 2014
(c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved.
(c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved.

Is This Heaven? Masque of the Orange Death

I entered the crowded dimly-lit venue looking for lunch, greeted by the Matre'D's question, "Are you sure you want to do this?" I turned to answer, but before my lips could form the words, he was speaking with another customer. It was popular tourist attraction. I turned back toward the overwhelming aromas that emanated from some heavenly kitchen in the far corner of the cafe.

Immersed in these seductive scents. I sought a table. I found the cafe's gift shop with it's latest French gowns straight from the catwalk - a black room of ebony handkerchief skirts, catsuits, capes, clarinets - everything for autumn.

Aromas from the heavenly kitchen wafted more closely and I wandered toward the back, where I found a grey room filled with the Headstone Representatives' Convention, followed by am orange corner chamber taken up with a conference of coffin-purse salesmen.

At the Ice Cream Shop In Hell
At the Ice Cream Shop In Hell | Source

Is This Heaven? Masque of the Orange Death

The joint was jumpin'! I couldn't find a table, but discovered a party of Real Estate Agents engrossed in completing sales forms for acres and acres of recreational property in a room of yellowish hue.

Next, A Haberdashery Convention hawking funny hats to magicians crossed my path through a red corridor, but no free table was visible.

The aromas of fine cuisine became overpowering and the heat of the place intense, but now I was caught up in an awards ceremony for Top Paperweight Artists - it filled a room of indistinguishable color.

Completely overcome by each chamber's offerings and the aromas of some food source, I lost color vision and was filled with aromas of something unique. The atmosphere was thick and palpable. Odd dwarfs multiplied and ran though the crowded meeting places, dressed as spiders and bat-things. I had to take action, and quickly.

Practically crawling towards the kitchen that emerged in the crowd, I gasped, "Is...that.... pumpkin ice cream..." The laughing hostess stepped aside to scoop out my lunch and I saw the banner that revealed the truth:

No heavenly kitchen this, but Scream's Ice Cream from Hell -- I WOULD have screamed soon without lunch; but restored by a waffle cone on the cool, picturesque terrace of neon green tables, I did not need such a mundane thing as lunch.

In Michigan, Hell is a community, a campground, and a small shopping district.
In Michigan, Hell is a community, a campground, and a small shopping district. | Source

Where the H#ll?

Unusual places of any size are my idea of great travel destinations. Monks Corners and Wonderland in Central Ohio have been some of those places. The first was a crossroads for trade where a shopping center eventually bloomed and the second was, at one time, right out of the Twilight Zone.

Driving through Wonderland one night years ago recalled to mind the TZ episode in which a strange thing with a hank of hair in a pickle jar was passed around with stories and rumors and the question, "Is it a he or a she or a plain old it?" I also thought of the X Files episode of the woman that lived on a mechanic's creeper sled under a bed - but no offense to Wonderland and its former residents; it's been a friendly community. It was just off a large highway, under a bridge and rather out of the way and isolated, right in the big city. Wonderland was a kind of resort community in the early 20th century, became a residential inner suburb, then disappeared except for the Wonderland Church.

Our nation has so many interesting small towns and communities that, while some are not even incorporated, are full of fun people to meet and things to do. Each state of the union probably has it's own book in the "Weird" series: Weird Texas, Weird Ohio, Weird Michigan, etc. Some unincorporated places are becoming the fastest growing suburbs in the country and their odd characteristics are fun features that attract visitors.

So. remembering our pastor's admonition that, "You can walk through Hell if you have to!" That's what I did. I took a couple of friends to Hell, Michigan. They'd been asking for it...

There are no sidewalks that we could find, but one large parking lot runs into the next in Hell. Hell is devoid of sidewalks, so foot traffic, beware!

Pinckney, Michigan and Hell, an Inner Suburb

This particular Hell is full of lakes and woodlands, friendly people, camping, a state recreational area, and about three blocks of hell-bent commercial businesses fronting a lake. You can rent canoes at Scream's, which has a blue door for good luck, a tiny door for little people, and a miniature golf course out back for golf and photos.

The community is pretty far off highway I-75 coming from the north, down a winding wooded road, and I would not want to try to locate it at night; but once you get to Pinckney, you find a huge sign pointing the way, so it's easy from there.

The most hellish part of the route is a confusing roundabout that it is not round, but attempts to lure one into driving the wrong way and down the wrong side of the road. That's around the town of Hamburg. Then a large sign for Hooker Road is amusing and I envisioned a Halloween effigy, a scarecrow night lady or two, tied to it on Halloween.

At our destination, I found that this is the only place I've seen that has both indoor restrooms and outhouses - take your pick! And I've never seen an ADA/handicapped accessible outhouse before - this was the first -- They are ready for everyone.

Directions from Ann Arbor, Michigan:

  • In Ann Arbor, take I-94 W via the Jackson MI ramp,
  • Take exit 167 for Baker Road (toward Dexter MI) and turn right at the end of the off ramp.
  • Turn left on Ann Arbor Street,
  • Continue on Main Street and then Dexter Pinckney Road (road changes names);
  • After about 8 miles, turn left on Darwin Road and proceed half a mile, then straight ahead on Patterson Lake Road for about 2 miles. You will pass Hell Creek Ranch and the commuinty of Hell will be on the left side of the road.

A Map To Hell

Hell, Michigan:
Hell, MI 48169, USA

get directions

Hell's General Store

This place is a real live country store that outranks other campground stores I have seen across the Midwest. They have a lot of food, drinks, novelties, apparel, camping supplies, and a Post Office.At the Post Office, you can send a charred postcard to a friend. I sent a card to a friend - not only was it stamped "Hell" in red, but also burned around the edges for an added personal touch.

Store personnel will deliver anything you want from their store to your campsite or nearby motel. Many of the T-shirt designs in the General Store are made by a Scream's employee that was on the hit TV show Survivor (Micronesia) - Eric Reicherbach.

Read more about Hell Michigan in the Comic Book of the same name: Hell Michigan by Dan Jolly and Clint Hilinski.

The Gateways of Hell and Scream's Ice Cream

Thye costumed small people must have used this door. The one on the right is painted blue, a tradition that is used to ward off demons. They might simply use the smaller door. (c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved.
Thye costumed small people must have used this door. The one on the right is painted blue, a tradition that is used to ward off demons. They might simply use the smaller door. (c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved. | Source
(c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved.
(c)Patty Inglish, 2009; all rights reserved.

Scream's Ice Cream

My experience at the top of this article was wholely within Scream's Ice Cream. It is a fun icre cream, gift, and novelty shop that features not only holiday decorations and customes, but magic tricks, toys, games, and apparel. You can see them online at: Screams.

Located right next door is Smitty's Dam Site Inn, online at DamSite. This is a casual dining establishment/tavern that is visited often by campers at Hell Creek Ranch rustic campgrounds and other campgrounds in and around the large Pinckney Recreation Area. Groups of motorcycle enthusiasts also enjoy the spot, as we saw on the day of out visit. The food must be good to attract so many people, so don't miss this if you go to Hell MI.

(public domain)
(public domain)

Hell's Half Acre

If you missed the Gibralter Trade Center on the way down to Hell, then you have a second chance for bargain's at Scream's.

Inside Scream's, you find many items not available since Spencer's Gifts went out of business. One particularly amusing item is a bottle of soil from Hell with an explanatory poster. It delineates the content of Hell's Half Acre and it's chemical composition - of course it contains sulfur! A smartly packaged bottle of dehydrated water is also a must-have. If you like magic tricks, there are several spinning racks of tricks that you can take home.

Remember those little sponge figures that you put in water and they expand? Well, in Hell, you can choose any from a dinosaur to Wonder Woman or a new husband - whom you can take down to the Wedding Chapel on site.

Gibralter Trade Centers

Gibralter Trade Center, 237 North River Road Mount Clemens, MI:
237 N River Rd, Mt Clemens, MI 48043, USA

get directions

Gibralter Trade Center, 15525 Racho Boulevard Taylor, MI:
15525 Racho Blvd, Gibraltar Trade Center Shopping Center, Taylor, MI 48180, USA

get directions

Proverbs in Hell

Master poet William Blake penned 70 proverbs of hell and a few seem fitting for the weekend visit recently finished:

  • What is now proved was once only imagin'd.
  • Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.
  • Enough! or too much.
  • All wholesome food is caught without a net or a trap [Mine was caught with an ice cream scoop, in fact.]

Comments & Curses (Not really)

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I really like your ideas.

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      8 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Thanks for the idea Patty, will try to get one together here in the next few days!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Another great one from the versatile Patty...I would say. That was a fun read.

      hope you're well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Mardi, have you written a Hub on Hell's Gate? People would love to read it. :) Thanks for writing!

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      8 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Great hub with lots of information. In British Columbia there is a Hell's Gate, complete with a breathtaking gondola/airtram ride across the Fraser Canyon. For Halloween you can participate in the "Pumpkin Drop" where you get to drop your carved pumpkin 500 feet down into the canyon and river below. Guess every place called Hell has its own tourist attraction!

    • sukhera143 profile image


      8 years ago from Home

      Nice story.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Great story. I don't think I would like to live in Hell.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Fun, isn't it, franki79? I think there are 5 Hell cities in America(LOL) and a Hell for Certain in Kentucky.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You've taken that turn around that isn't a turnaround one too many times,,, you had me completely turned around there for a minute but I kept with it if nothing else than to see where the hell you were going with it!!! Pun intended.

      Loved the hub, great description of the town and the places to visit.

      I had no idea there was a Hell, Mi. I knew there was a Hell, NM. I might haveta find it if I'm ever in Michigan.

      Thanks for the hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Well, it was fun to write, anyway. Scream's became so warm with all the customers and visitors that I became overheated. So, I got some ice cream and then went back inlater. It was so much fun seeing the kids and adults laughing at all the neat products. One does not need to celebrate halloween to appreciate this "town."

    • dusanotes profile image


      8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      I don't know what to call this hub - creative, off the beaten track, macabbe, ghostly, scary, unusual. It's all of that - but it did the trick. It kept me until the end. Good job. Don White

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      BT - In winter, the entire twisty road likely freezes over and no one can get out! Beautiful scenery though - I could live there on the campgrounds. Did you say that you like to curl up in a Snuggie in your bunker?

      creativeone - Thanks for reading another one of my hubs; glad you liked it!

      steph - How are you? I'm happy this one made you smile. It was much fun to write.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Patty, I always love your hubs. This one tops my favorites recently! Best, Stephanie

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      8 years ago from Hell, MI

      It sounds like you came at just the right time! I haven't been out of my bunker since last December, and there was nobody around at that time. Of course, in December Hell freezes over, so they were probably all sitting by their fireplaces with warm apple cider and wearing their Snuggies. Or maybe they just saw me coming.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you for a very interesting hub, thanks for sharign it. creativeone59

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @Itswritten - Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it.

      @Paradise7 - Just like the place itself. A little disconcerting. Thanks for commenting!

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good hub. I didn't know where you were going with it at first, and when I found out I was amused. Thanks!

    • Itswritten profile image


      8 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Great Story


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