Devil’s Punchbowl

Celebrated Thanksgiving with this hike, a two hour drive from home.  This park sits right on the San Andreas fault and is known for its crazy rocks.  I felt a little unsettled all day. Everything is a bit different than I am used to – the pine covered mountains, the altitude and, most noticeable, the steeper drop offs from the side of the trail.  I started out on the wrong trail as well, which was confusing (Don’t take Burkhart Horse Trail).  I finally got it worked out and enjoyed the rest of the day.  First I hiked to Devil’s Chair, a narrow, fenced-in ridge high above the Punchbowl with amazing views.  I also made sure to include Devil’s Punchbowl loop, a mile long trail that takes you close to these oddly shaped boulders and walls of stone.

1       2      3       4

5       6   I drove into the desert to get here, but the landscape changed from Joshua trees to pine trees within minutes.  Photo 3 – Big water tank on Burkhart Trail.  Photo 5 – I was heading back toward the parking lot when I found this kiosk. Now I understand.  Photo 6 – The trail runs to the left past this broken fence.

7               8

Beautiful manzanitas in this area

9               10

11               12

Looking back toward the desert.    After about a mile I came to a sign pointing me to Devil’s Chair.  There are markers every half mile, starting on Burkhart Trail, all the way to Devil’s Chair.


14   The trail is narrow but firm.  A bit hair-raising in places.

15               16

17   At a junction the trail breaks in two directions – right toward a camp ground and left toward Devil’s Chair.

18               19

20               24

I make my approach.  Although the metal is kind of rusty and the ridge has crumbled away from the fence in a couple of areas, I felt pretty safe.  But the drop is extreme, as seen in the photo 4.


The scariest part was the very end as there is a big dip I had to get past.  The fencing on one side has a large hole that I pictured myself somehow falling through.


Devil’s Punchbowl from Devil’s Chair

23               25

Photo 1 – View to the right  Photo 2 – Looking back at Devil’s Chair and Punchbowl as I started the journey back.

26       29      28       30

Photo 1 – On my way back – deer I presume?  Photo 3 – Neapolitan Rock


Awesome views all around

31   When I arrived back at the parking area I unloaded a lot of gear and headed out to tackle the loop trail.  I passed an enclosure to find three charming, rescued owls living here at the park’s nature center.

32       33      34       36

38   I headed down into the canyon on the loop trail.

35               37

42   I love these smooth, weather-sculpted shapes.

39               40


Fantastic to see these tilted giants close-up and at eye level.

43     44     45   Interesting textures

46               47

Across the canyon I spotted a climber making his way to the top.


Happy Thanksgiving


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *