Devil’s Punchbowl In Pearblossum, CA

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The Devils Punchbowl is a unique area in Pearblossum, CA (about an hour and a half North East of Los Angeles) with a state park that houses some interesting hiking trails and truly unique geological formation. The Devils Punchbowl itself is accessible from a 1 mile loop trail that drops you down into the center of these massive rocks and lets you explore and climb to your hearts content.

Devils punchbowl

A little background on the area is as follows.

“The most conspicuous features of the park are geological. The Punchbowl is a deep canyon cut by the runoff of large quantities of water from the higher San Gabriel Mountains occurring over a long period of time. These mountain peaks above the park are 8,000 feet in elevation while the Nature Center is located at 4,740 feet above sea level. The Punchbowl Canyon is 300 feet deep at the vista point. The peculiar uptilted rock formations to be seen in the entire area are layers of sedimentary rocks that were formed long ago by the depositing of loose material in horizontal layers by water. Later they were squeezed into their present steeply-tilted form by the continuing action of uplift along the Punchbowl and Pinyon Faults and pressures along the San Andreas Fault. The Punchbowl Fault is to the south of the rock formation while the Pinyon and San Andreas Faults are to the north.”

Check out how it looks on Google Maps to get a sense of the uniqueness of the rock formations.

devils punchbowl from above

At first glance you will see this area is competly unique. There are large rocks that jut at least 100 feet out of the desert floor and the only way I can describe it is if they were pushed out from underneath. There are a dozen of these rocks all varying in size and in color along this loop.

Devils punchbowl trail sign

Hiking to devils punchbowl

The loop itself has many opportunities for you to exit and walk down to the small river that winds its way through the devils punch bowl, as well as test your luck climbing some of the rocks. Since we has just completed the Devils Chair hike which is 7 miles long we elected to stay on the path and take in the views, but we saw a lot of people both picnicking and doing some climbing.

Rock formations of devils punchbowl

Taking a picture of devils punchbowl

You can see me in the picture to get a sense of scale

Rocks in Devils punch bowl

I have to stress the fact that the landscape here feels somewhat other worldly. It reminds me a lot of the Pinnacles National Monument area in Central California and is a great place to take the family and have a picnic while the kids, or the adult, climb on the rocks. Check out a video I took below.

Also of note, their visitor center has a collection of snakes and scorpions all found in the area and is worth checking out in and of itself. There is also a couple caged owls outside of the center.

Owl at visitor center

Snakes at the visitors center

I cannot stress how awesome this park is to experience and would recommend it if you are looking for an interesting outdoor adventure for the whole family. Plus it is free, there is no parking costs. Also, when we left at around 2 the parking lot was completely full so make sure you consider that if coming on a weekend. Make sure to bring a lot of water during the summer as well as the area does not have a lot of shade.

Check out the rest of the photos below and make sure to leave me a comment.

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  • http://twitter.com/jordanhmay Jordan H May

    Josh thanks for the review. I was thinking about heading out tomorrow for a solo hike to Devils Chair or Punch Bowl or both. Can you give me some more info? The chair hike you mentioned is 7 miles? Total? Do you remember the elevation gain? The DPB is 1 mile loop only? So, I could get both done in the day? Thanks! Jordan

    • http://californiathroughmylens.com/ Josh

      Yea it is 7 miles round trip to the chair, it is not to difficult elevation was around 800-1000 feet. You can see our graph here. http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1433625

      The Punchbowl is only 1 mile and prb a couple hundred feet. You can do them both in a day no problem if you are a good hiker. Let me know how it goes!

  • Juliana Lenny

    Really appreciate the review! Thinking about heading down there tomorrow. Sounds like it was busy. Hopefully getting there early enough will help me avoid crowds! Thanks again!

    • http://californiathroughmylens.com/ Josh

      No problem, glad you enjoyed it! Hope you have fun!

  • Vanessa Bartsch

    I guess I should say that your Top Hikes in SoCal has now become my hiking bucket list. :) did this one (both Devil’s Chair and Punchbowl) last weekend. There was snow and the shade made it brutally cold in the shadow of the mountains. So if you do it in winter, take thick jackets, gloves and hats. Punchbowl was a lot more fun to climb rocks and boulders and venture off the path into the creek. There were a few hardcore rock climbers there, too. Totally worth the 2 hour drive.

    • http://californiathroughmylens.com/ Josh

      Thanks for the information! Glad you liked the hike and the top hikes list! I look forward to seeing which ones you do next!

  • JS

    How cold and how high do you think the water levels for the river crossings on the Bridge to Nowhere trail will be at this time of year? Is there a way to stay along the river, but avoid getting wet at all?

  • Debbie

    So happy I came across this list. We would spend all of our time in the Sierra’s if we could but we live and work in OC so that’s not possible. We had been searching for new hikes (without the crowds) when I came across your list. Decided to do Devils Punchbowl last weekend and it was fantastic. Loved the hiking and rock climbing. Loved the nature center and the rangers/volunteers there were some of the nicest we have ever encountered. Drove Hwy 2 home and it made for an excellent ending to the day. Thanks for putting your list together. There are several others on it that we haven’t heard of before and plan to tackle in the weeks ahead.

    • http://californiathroughmylens.com/ Josh

      Thanks for the comment Debbie, so glad you had fun!

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