Devil’s Chair Hike (Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area)
|In This Guide|
|Distance||7.5 miles (12.1 km)|
|Hike Time||3 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,850 feet (564m)|
|Highest Elevation||5,330 feet (1625m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Park Website||Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area and Nature Center|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
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.
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.
Gear for the Hike
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.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
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 a 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
Devil’s Chair Hike (Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area) Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
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.
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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FYI I have a version of this video in 360/VR format. Not familiar with the benefits of 360 video? Then watch this.
Turn by Turn Directions
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.