Devil’s Punchbowl is a geological marvel located just off of the Pearlblossom Highway. Devil’s Punchbowl covers 1310 acres of sandstone strata jutting dramatically up from the earth. The sedimentary rock slabs were squeezed up into their current position by movements along the San Adreas Fault. Water rushing down from the San Gabriel Mountains over the years has exposed this magical site for all to enjoy.
This hike starts with a 1 mile loop trail around the Punchbowl itself. Many visitors call it a day after this section, but there is an additional trail called Devil’s Chair Trail for those seeking a better view of the Punchbowl. In this write up, I’ll have a full trail description and photos for those looking to visit and hike the Devil’s Punchbowl area.
Directions And GPS Tracks:
- Devil’s Punchbowl is pretty far out of the way for most Southern California residents. Take the 5 if you’re coming from LA, take the 15 if you’re coming from the Inland Empire. Click here for directions on Google Maps
- Download GPX
- See my track on Strava
- Distance 8.5 miles roundtrip
- Elevation Gain 2062 ft
- Minimum Elevation 4482 ft
- Maximum Elevation 5327 ft
- Time 3-6 hours roundtrip
- Difficulty Beginner
- Dog Friendly Yes, on leash
- Permit Required No
- Season: Year round
- Water: Available at the trailhead
- Trail Condition: Well maintained trail. Well marked and easy to follow.
Hike Map And Elevation Profile:
The parking lot of the Devil’s Punchbowl area is quite large, but fills up quickly. You can park alongside the road outside of the parking lot if you arrive late in the day. There are a number of drinking fountains near the parking lot and a picnic area just outside the visitor center. To begin the Devil’s Punchbowl Loop trail, head towards the visitor center after passing through the green entry gate, and make your way towards the red trail sign. The incredible views of the Punchbowl start right away, so have your camera ready before you hit the trail.
As you can see in the elevation profile above, the 1 mile loop section of this hike starts with a downhill before climbing back up to the parking lot area to join the Devil’s Chair Trail. The loop trail is well maintained with good signage, but there are a few other trail offshoots leading in other directions. Make sure to pay attention.
After completing the 1 mile Devil’s Punchbowl Loop hike, you can continue on to the Devil’s Chair Trail or make your way back to the parking lot. Look for a brown trail post that says Burkhart Trail and you’ll see the signage for the Devil’s Chair Trail on the other side of the path. Just after the trail sign, you’ll see a green water tower. Keep this tower in mind. The Devil’s Chair Trail hooks around in a ‘U’ shape, allowing you to look back and see the water tower at the turnaround point. It’s always pretty cool to look back and see how far you’ve hiked. The distance from the trailhead to Devil’s Chair is 3.7 miles.
The first mile or so of the Devil’s Chair Trail is dusty, exposed, and not very eventful, as it follows a fireroad. The scenery really starts to pick up though when you leave the fireroad behind and join the Pacific Crest Trail. This section of trail is a reminder of how special California can be. The marriage of desert and mountains that takes an inhospitable landscape, and presents it in the most appealing ways. Once you see the PCT trail sign, you have 2.8 more miles to reach Devil’s Chair.
The views of Devil’s Punchbowl are on offer for almost the entirety of this hike, but really open up with about a mile to go. Having done so many peak bagging hikes, the relatively flat nature of this trail was quite welcome.
With a half mile to go, you’ll see a massive boulder off to your right, and then begin a descent towards Devil’s Chair. At the end of the descent you’ll deadend into a two way junction for Devil’s Chair and South Fork Trail. There is also a nice shaded picnic area by the trail junction. Head left, and make your way out towards Devil’s Chair.
After taking the left hand turn at the trail junction, you’ll see a man made walkway that leads towards Devil’s Chair. The steps are well maintained and not too steep, but make sure to watch your step.
The final step of to Devil’s Chair is a steep one. Once you’ve hopped up that final step, you’ll have the entire Devil’s Punchbowl area in your sites. Make sure to take your time and enjoy the views. There are few on earth like this.
After you’ve spent enough time enjoying the views from Devil’s Chair, you can turn around and hike back the way you came.
Thanks for reading this hiking guide! Leave me any comments or questions you might have. Make sure to follow along here and on social media for more.