Devils Chair Hike Devils Punchbowl Natural Area

Devil’s Chair Hike (Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area)

In This Guide
  • How to Get to the Devil’s Chair Hike
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Devil’s Chair Hike Trail Maps
Distance7.5 miles (12.1 km)
Hike Time3 Hours (Total)
DifficultyModerate
Total Ascent (?)1,850 feet (564m)
Highest Elevation5,330 feet (1625m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteDevil's Punchbowl Natural Area and Nature Center
Park Phone6610-944-2743
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Support - Shop at REI / Amazon

The unique geology on the Devil’s Chair hike make it one of the most beautiful hikes in the area. The hike is in Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, which is a transition zone between the Mojave Desert and San Gabriel Mountains. It’s also on the San Andreas and Punchbowl Faults  And this easy/moderate hike ends on a dramatic rock perch called the Devil’s Chair, offering spectacular views of the colorful geology and fauna around you.

There’s an optional 1 mile loop trail at the end which brings you through some geological highlights of the park.

Where is the Devil’s Chair?

The Devil’s Chair hike is within the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, which is located on the eastern side of Angeles National Forest. The drive out there takes you along the Mojave and is pretty remote (and beautiful).

Leave early to beat the crowds. The Devil’s Chair is featured in some non-hiker attraction lists and it can get busy.

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The drive to Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area is super scenic and offers a nice photo opportunity at the entrance sign.
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The parking lot is pretty big but does fill up on busy days.
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There’s a visitor center with limited hours located at the far end of the parking lot.

The Visitor’s Center area has bathrooms and water. There are also a bunch of picnic tables around in case you want to have lunch after your hike.

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The Visitor’s Center also has interpretive displays outside and inside.

Gear for the Hike

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The hike lies on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and it can get very hot, so plan accordingly.

I recommend regular hiking gear for this hike, although you can get away with fitness gear in a pinch too. The conditions are varied: in the winter there can be snow and ice, in the summer temperatures in the 100s. If it’s cold, bring micro-spikes and trekking poles. If it’s hot, bring 3L of water.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

Osprey Talon

Osprey Talon 33

My best lightweight pack for hikes between 3-10+ hours. I use mine with the 3L water bladder from Osprey.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Garmin InReach Mini

You can text, SOS, and get weather in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. Literally a life-saver.

Lowest Prices

My In-Depth Review

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Modern materials mean you get the protection of a traditional hiking boot (waterproof, etc.) with feel of a sneaker.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Fenix 5x Hiking Nav

Garmin Fenix Map Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

If you’re not using poles yet, you should be. This model takes a beating, is light, and is super comfortable.

See The Reviews

Socks Sock Liners

2-Layer Sock System

I use a light inner toe sock and then a top-quality outer sock to prevent blisters.

Injinji Sock Liners

Darn Tough Socks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Devil’s Chair Trail Maps

Click To View Map

Devil’s Chair Hike (Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area) Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

How Will You Navigate the Hike?

I recommend using a combination of paper maps, GPS, and a guide to navigate the hike. Before the hike I will look at any guides, print out sections that are helpful or take notes, load a GPX track onto my GPS units, and then take a look at the paper maps. I know the trail names, know what parts are hard, which parts are easy, and where the major landmarks are.

If you are tempted to just use a smartphone, please don’t. You’ll often loose cell phone reception on the trail. At the very least, print out a paper map and this guide. Better yet, check out the navigation section on my gear picks page to see the latest and greatest that I’m using. There’s even a special discount on GaiaGPS for HikingGuy users.

See The Nav Gear I Use

Devils Chair Hike Elevation
There’s some up and down on the hike, but no major climbs. This is the one-way profile to the Devil’s Chair.
Devils Chair Hike 3d Map
After a gradual climb, the trail follows the ridge-line around the side of the mountain. The last little section descends down to the fenced-in Devil’s Chair area. Also take note of the fault-line geology in this great satellite shot.

The Fault Geology

And as I mentioned earlier, Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area is just south of the San Andrea Fault, which is where the Pacific Plate and North American Plate collide. The specific area here is called the Punchbowl Fault.

The Punchbowl fault in the Devil’s Punchbowl County Park, California, provides an unequaled view of the internal structure of a large-displacement fault of the San Andreas system.– Center for Tectonophysics, Texas A&M University

What that means on the hike is that you’ll see layers of sandstone that have been pushed up, past the earth’s surface, and then eroded. This wall of sandstone rock forms the wall of “the punchbowl” and has been eroded by the natural forces of the Mojave and San Gabriel Mountains.

The sandstone rocks that you see pushed up have lead to the discovery of fossils from 5-10 million years ago, which is also when those rock layers were formed.

If you want an “official fault line shot” there’s a sign here. The geology that you see on the hike is a result of the land being pushed up when the plates collide.

San Andreas Fault Sign
Here’s a street view of the fault line sign. A good photo prop but not great for property values.

If you want to do a deep dive on the specific geology of the Punchbowl and San Andreas Faults, look no further than this guide: Field Guide to the Punchbowl Fault Zone at Devil’s Punchbowl Los Angeles County Park, California

Random: If you’re a fan of the band Wolfmother, they did a music video here.

Devil’s Chair Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

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The trailhead starts in this corner of the parking lot. There are some small trails around the lot to various picnic areas.
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Here’s the trailhead. Go straight here. And note that the porta-potty is not always here.
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The trail is well-marked. Go straight and avoid the side trails to the picnic areas.
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At the fence keep right to head towards Devi’s Chair. To the left is a really nice bench and overlook at that you should check out too.
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Here’s the vista point to the left at the fence.
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This is the view from the vista point. If you do the optional loop at the end, you’ll be hiking through the area in front of you.
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After taking in the vista point, head back to the right at the fence, where you’ll shortly come to this trail sign. Keep hiking straight past the sign.
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The trail is well worn and starts the gradual climb. You’ll have some views to the north of Antelope Valley.
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Keep straight at the merge with the larger trail.
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Bear right at this fork.
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Here’s the trail junction to Burkhart Saddle. Hike to the left as the landscape transitions from desert scrub to a sub-alpine forest.
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Here’s a closeup of the trail sign in the last shot.
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And once you hike into the fork, you’ll officially be on the PCT. Or rather the Official Endangered Species Detour of the PCT designed to protect the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. The frog is only found in these special SoCal habitats and in the Southern Sierras.
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The trail goes through some pines as it descends.
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You’ll hike around the bend as the trail crosses Punchbowl Creek.
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As you climb up from the creek the trail hugs the ridgeline of the mountain for the next stretch.
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There’s some man-made help on sections here that are worn. If it’s winter and icy, I’d recommend micro-spikes around here. Otherwise it looks worse than it is.
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You’ll have some great views of the Devil’s Punchbowl and fault line down to your left on this section.
Devil Chair Diretion Extra 1
At this section, make the left to head down to Devil’s Chair. The straight trail leads to some boulders and rock formations that overlook Holocomb Canyon.
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Head down the steep dirt trail.
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At the well-marked junction, hike to the left.
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There’s some up and down, as well as a fence in various states of health.
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Follow the fenced-in trail down toward the vista.
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And here you are, the Devil’s Chair!
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To get back, just hike the same way you hiked in.
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If you want to do the optional Loop Trail, make the hard right at the trail board that you passed at the beginning of the hike.
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The trail heads downhill.
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You’ll see a few benches and numbered interpretive displays on the loop trail as it winds it way through the unique geological formations.
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There are trail signs but some sections split apart and come back together. Most people do this trail in the other direction from the visitor’s center. It’s a loop though, and you’ll be fine.
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If you do get confused, look for man-made features like fences and stairs. The last section climbs some stairs back to the Visitor’s Center.
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And here you are back at the Visitor’s Center. That’s the hike!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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