There is a Hell, and it”s not so far away.

Paul Wong
Ronda Alexander, Tiffany Marra, and Krystal Smith will run the new smartgirls.org website.<br><br>PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INSTITUTE ON WOMEN AND GENDER

It might not be the vacation capital of the world, but to the residents who live there, Hell, Mich., a small town near Pickney State Recreational Area and Pickerel and Silver lakes, it should be.

“The worst thing about living in Hell is probably listening to people screech their tires at 2:30 in the morning,” said Mike Brady, a resident of the town since 1974. “There”s a bar right up there and it”s pretty much a tourist bar.”

Brady said the town sees its fair share of tourists, but mostly they come by for the water, hiking trails and cycling.

“It”s like a taste of the North and yet you”re not having to drive hours and hours. There”s nothing east of 23,” he said.

Sitting on a bench outside Hell Country Store and Spirits, the lone party store of the town, Brady chatted with other store goers.

Brian Deatrick, a resident since 1979 when he moved to Hell to “get out in the country,” said living there has reaped some benefits.

“It does have character. It”s friendly,” Deatrick said, “it”s fun to be from Hell. Wherever you go, you have something to tell people. It”s always the start of a conversation, and you got to find some way to prove it to them.”

But proving that there is a Hell is harder than some might think.

The town, although it owns a dot on the official Michigan map, doesn”t get a lot of recognition or publicity. Besides the surrounding camping areas, Hell is mostly known for its post office, which allows out-of-towners to send post cards and letters from the unique mailing address.

The town boasts Hells Creek Ranch, which offers visitors 35-mile country side tours from horseback and four-hour long canoe rides.

In all, the ranch covers over 1,000 acres of state land.

Camping at the ranch costs $16 a night, which includes water and electric hook-up. Rustic sites are only $7 a night.

Traveling down the road, visitors can also camp out at Pickney, which, according to the website hellcreekranch.allhell.com, covers 10,201 acres of land and has 245 camp sites.

But the popularity of the town is growing, and although the price to visit Hell is holding steady at cheap, houses in Hell have become a hot commodity.

“I bought a little cottage on the lake. At the time the property was reasonable, but now it”s nuts,” Brady said. “I paid $20,000 for my house, and now they are asking $200,000.

“I”d be homeless if I didn”t have my house (already),” he added. “You”d see me panhandleling in the Diag in Ann Arbor.”

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