Devil's Punchbowl / Devil's Chair

#14 of 196 trails in Angeles National Forest
Devil's Punchbowl / Devil's Chair is a 7.4 mile out and back trail located near Pearblossom, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.3 miles Out & Back 1000 feet
Dog Friendly
hiking dogs leash river rocky
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The Devil's Punchbowl is a point where 2 earthquake faults collide, creating upwards jutting vertical walls as high as 300 feet. It is a spectacular setting, with the high desert spreading out on one side, and the pine covered Angeles National forest on the other. The hike takes you along the mostly shaded rim of the Punchbowl, to the dramatic Devil's Chair, a breathtaking overlook with 360 degree views of the geologic formations. A rainbow of rock surrounds the Devils Chair with pink streaked chalk white cliffs, undulating tan crags, chocolate brown slabs, and green-gray ledges. This, combined with the green of the mountains and the blue sky, makes for a memorable image.

Hikers with extra energy, may want to also take the 1 mile loop trail, which drops down into the punchbowl amongst the stunning rock formations. Summer hikers should bring lots of water as it can get seriously hot in this area!

Sara E.

This trail was great. Very well marked and the staff in the visitor center were eager to help us. The trail is pretty narrow for the most part and had a few steep areas but nothing too difficult. We took our dog with us as well with no issues. Bring snacks and water with you. It takes around 4 hours to hike Devils Chair.

Dedrick Knox

3 Completed3 Reviews

Truly a moderate hike for the less experienced hiker. Really good view in spots and the Devil's Chair is worth the hike. Pack plenty water and snacks

WoodDude 7.

I've done this one many times over the years, and every time I see or find something new along the trail. Colorful rocks, gnarled trees, streams, snow, wildlife, mountain and desert vistas - this trail has it all. I like this trail best in Spring and Fall, but it's good year 'round, as long as it's not completely buried under snow and ice. If you live near sea level, the initial climb up to the High Desert Nat'l. Scenic Trail will be a bit of a puff, but once you're up there, it's mostly level trail out to the Devil's Chair, except that last 1/4 mile. Don't forget to bring your camera, some snacks for energy, and plenty of water!
You start out at the Devil's Punchbowl (L.A. County Park) Visitors' Center, where there are a couple of short, but very scenic, loop trails that explore the punchbowl, and a small but informative museum, which covers the areas natural history and features live examples of several of the area's natural residents. Your trail leads uphill, along the rim of the bowl. Passing through a fenceline, you exit the county park and join the bottom end of the Burkhardt Trail, named for an early settler in these parts who first established some of the trails you're hiking today. After about a mile, and a 500' elevation gain, you reach the High Desert National Scenic Trail. The trail to the left is mostly level and partly shady for the next 2 miles, until you start switch-backing down a ridge. Another 1/4 mile or so brings you to a couple of shaded, welcome-looking benches, and the jumpoff trail to the Devil's Chair. Here's where the trail gets a bit hairy: you cross a steep slope of scree, then walk a stone tightrope to get out onto the Chair. There are handrails and fences lining both sides of the trail here, but I wouldn't want to depend too much on them. Out on the Chair is the perfect spot for some photos and a snack, before heading back the way you came.
If you've done the trail before, you may be inclined to do a bit of exploring on the way back. There are several good jumping-off points to explore ridges and canyons along the way back, and I've made some of my very favorite photographs in the San Gabriels in this area. Just be careful; there are cliffs and spiny plants, not to mentioned fanged critters, out there. Beware of the over-steepened slopes, or you may find yourself in the hospital, or worse!

Steve Johnston

6 Completed5 Reviews

I really enjoy this hike. Great for family. Not so much for the serious adventure hiker. But it has it's moments!

Otis Allen

10 Completed2 Reviews

This is a really fun hike. It really worked me out the first couple of times I did it but it gets easier. I can't believe some of the people I see up there sometimes. Example-- I saw four people in maybe late 40s doing this hike. All were wearing flip-flops (not sandals). All were carrying beer cans but in foam holders and chain smoking the entire way. I think one had a 600ml water bottle with them. I still wonder if they made it back up from the first 1/2 mile back from the chair.
I felt kinda over prepared with my camelbak and what started out as 2.5l of water and a couple of small bottles extra.

Edgar cobos

2 Completed2 Reviews

It was a fun trail but I must say it was not an easy trail as many claim. If you don't hike that often be ready for it. The first mile is uphill not steep. The rest is nice until you head back from the chair area. Carry a lot of water people.

Jason Ethridge

12 Completed8 Reviews

Clever Ways

1 Completed1 Reviews

I write this passage to share my experience but more to endeavor to find the people who helped me make it back. If anyone can assist with identifying those that helped me, I would greatly appreciate it.
My contact information is at the bottom.

If this hike is considered moderate, I'd like to know what is considered difficult. Maybe it's my age (59) but I have been hiking for many years and this is by far the most difficult hike I've ever done. Getting to the chair was fairly moderate, but getting back was extremely challenging. Part of the problem was that I hadn't initially planned on going so far, but it was so beautiful yesterday that I felt energized to do it. I'd only had a liter of water on me, and I normally carry a 2.5 liter hydration pack, but again, it wasn't the original plan to go to the chair. Lesson learned. About half way back I ran out of water and was beginning to feel leg cramps. I was afraid I might not make it out of there on my own. I'd seen a young couple several times along the trail, and at one point while I was sitting under a shaded area and they started to pass me, I' d asked them if they had any spare water. Now -- I'm a very independent person and I have to be pretty darned desperate to ask for anything, especially for water from someone who may not have enough for themselves, but this was most definitely a desperate situation. The young woman said, "Sure", and the young man offered me the bottle of water that he was carrying and said, "You can keep it." I'd never felt so grateful in my life. I thanked them and said, "God bless you." He smiled and said, "You're welcome". And they continued on. I drank half the bottle and kept the rest for sipping on the journey back.
I was becoming more and more exhausted as I pushed myself forward. I could only take a few steps at a time, then rest under shaded areas for awhile before continuing on. I was imagining collapsing from exhaustion and being discovered by a hiker, then being awakened by paramedics in an ambulance on my way to some hospital with sirens blaring. I would rather die than have that happen. I prayed to God to give me the strength I needed to get through this. Each step was becoming more and more of a major effort. At one point I again saw the couple who so graciously offered me water. They were with another couple that I'd seen a few times earlier. There were a few children with them as well, and a little brown dog. I believe they all came together and became separated at some point. But now they were together. They were taking pictures of each other. By this time the bottle that the young man had given me was empty. As I passed them, I said to the young man, "God bless you. I think you may have saved my life." His eyes beamed with kindness as he smiled and said, "You're welcome". I think he is the kindest young man I have ever met. It occurred to me to introduce myself and get their names, but I regret that I didn't, partly because I was so out of it and because didn't want to intrude on them, so I just kept walking. Then he called to me when I was a few feet away, "Ma'am?" I turned and said, "Yes?" And miracle of miracles, he handed me another bottle of water that I think the other couple gave to him to give to me. I almost collapsed -- not from exhaustion, but from gratitude. Trying to hold the tears of gratitude back, I said, "God bless you." And said the same to the other couple. The whole group looked at me and smiled and said, "You're welcome." And the young man said, "You're only about a mile away, you'll make it." I wanted to hug him, but my normally reserved self would not allow me to. I deeply regret that I didn't. I continued on, more exhausted than I'd ever felt in my life. Stopping every few minutes to catch my sinking breath. Sipping the sweet, cool, miracle water with each stop. Trying to stretch the cramps out of my legs. Praying to make it to the end. Hearing the young man's words, as if channelled directly from God, "'ll make it." Finally I made it to the sign that says, "Devil's Chair, 2.8 Miles". Personally, I think the 2.8 miles is a drastic miscalculation. But I knew if I was at this point I would make it to my car, and then "home, sweet home." I dragged my feet like a cast member of 'The Walking Dead'. Motivated in spirit (not so much in body) to move on, get to my car, maybe find more water although it would be hot from being in a hot car for half the day but who cares, then get home to more water and sustainince. (I'd only brought some strawberries with me that I'd eaten hours before). I started to feel as though a higher power was pushing me along; it just didn't seem to be "me" that was making myself move forward. Was this the power of prayer? And then I made it. I saw my car. I cried. I opened the hatch where I thought there was water. Then I saw the couple with the little brown dog standing by their car which was p

Oscar Mejia

1 Completed1 Reviews

I ran it early in morning, but on my way back it was starting to get packed.

Kristy Li

8 Completed8 Reviews

Awesome view and great hike.
Hiked with one other friend.

We started off with the hike to the Devil's Chair. The trail was relatively quiet, most likely because it was the day after Christmas and it was kind of cold when we started. There's great views of the desert along the way to the chair that we would stop and take a detour to go look at.

The chair itself was pretty neat, a good rest stop to fuel up and then head back. Very quiet and serene (again, most likely due to it being the day after Christmas) but it'd be hard to imagine the rest being peaceful with more people. We were lucky that only one group was there taking in the view, who shortly left once we arrived, so we had the chair to ourselves.

Afterwards we headed over to the punchbowl and explored that area a bit. More families were down there with their kids playing in the stream below. The rock formations are just awesome to stand and absorb them in. At this point the sun was starting to set, so the way the light just hits them is breathtaking.

Not much of an elevation, in fact we descended a bit when we were hiking to the chair.

As always, bring water, sunblock (even though it was relatively shaded), hat, snacks and other essentials. No hiking sticks needed for this one!

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