Posted by: GeekHiker | February 8, 2009

HIKE: Devil’s Punchbowl/Punchbowl Loop

If you don’t have time to the hike to the Devil’s Chair, or have children in tow. this hike can make for a pleasant hour.  In fact, there’s enough to see as you descend into the canyon that you may want to spend more.

From the parking lot, pass around a gate to find the park’s nature center.  Inside, you’ll be able to pick up a park map, see displays on local flora and fauna, and talk to a ranger.  When I was there, they brought a small snake out of the back for the children to look at.  Various “ewwws” ensued.  I didn’t want to barge in, but I kinda wanted to play with the snake too.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 01
The little nature center

Outside of the visitor center is a small building where you can view some captive owls.  Imprinted on humans, or unable to survive on their own, they live here well cared for.  I spent some time watching where one of the owl looked, trying to figure out what his exemplary vision was seeing that mine wasn’t.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 02
Meet Squints

To the left of the visitor center is the start of the trail.  The left fork will take you onto a short, flat .3 mile nature path.   Along it you can see signs identifying some of the fauna.  Halfway through the loop a use trail leads off to some easily climbable sandstone slabs.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 04
Last day’s light on the sandstone

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 03
Cactus near the start of the trail

When you’ve finished the nature trail, turn left to start the trail down into the canyon.  The trail is generally easy, but worn in some sections (a lot of it due to people cutting the switchbacks).

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 05
Starting down into the canyon

Along the trail you’ll come close to some of the large sandstone boulders, the various strata built clearly visible.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop 06
Rock strata in a large boulder

Before long you’ll reach the bottom of the canyon where you’ll find the seasonal creek trickling along.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop Photomerge 02
Along the creekbed

The trail follows the creek for a few hundred yards, then begins ascending the canyon wall again.  Above you loom the folded sandstone slabs.

Devil's Punchbowl Loop Photomerge 01
Passing by the large sandstone fins while climbing out of the canyon

The trail will eventually climb back up to the top of the alluvial fan, reconnecting with the Burkhart trail.  Turn right and follow it back to the parking lot.

Total Distance: 1.3 Miles (both trails)

Elevation Gain/Loss: 350’/350′


More Info: Wikipedia Page

Directions: From CA Highway 14, exit at State Route 138 (Palmdale Blvd) heading East. [NOTE: Some parts of this route were under construction as of this writing, so the following may change slighly. However, there should be signage for SR 138.] Following the SR 138 signs, turn right at 47th St. E, which will then bear left and turn into Fort Tejon Rd, and then left again, becoming Pearlblossom Hwy. After approx 16.6 miles, turn right at Longview Road (County Road N6). After 2.2 miles, turn left at Fort Tejon Rd., then .3 miles bear right onto Longview Rd. 2.3 miles later, turn left at the sign onto Tumbleweed Rd, which will bear right onto Devil’s Punchbowl Rd.. The road will end at the parking lot for the park.

Admission is free.



  1. I often forget that cool hikes do not have to be long hikes.

  2. I love the along the creekbed picture! I’ve never gone hiking (seriously) but I would definitely go there if I had a chance.

  3. Stop posting all these california ones; they do me no good. Come hike in Idaho, dude. We have good places, too! 🙂

  4. I love the fading sunlight on that giant slab. You go on some great hikes. Have you hiked WY and MT?

  5. Great hike … can’t wait for the snow to melt.

  6. This makes me want to get outside. Right. Now.

    The cactus looks like a cholla (pronounced “choy-a”). I’ll never forget what a naturalist once told me about them: their spines come off easily but if they stick in your skin, remove them right away because if you don’t, the needles swell in the presence of moisture (blood, etc.) and can get stuck. ouch!

    Nice post.

  7. This makes me yearn for summer. Like, yesterday.

    BUT, it was close to 50 today, so we’re making progress, right? 🙂

    Tagged you for an awesome blog award, too – come check it out!

  8. I got a phone call from a 909 number. I looked it up. That’s a California area code. Did you figure out who I am and call me? Obviously that’s crazy. But my first thought was not “wrong number” but of you. Weird huh?

  9. dude, these and the previous day’s pics are amazing. (i especially love the moon shot).
    you should quit IT and be a hiking tour guide.

  10. That looks nice. Sometimes I forget to enjoy those little hikes. But they really are nice when you don’t have time for a big expedition.

  11. Homer-Dog – Nope, some of the best are short ones.

    Wendy – Thanks! Yes, you must get out on the trail.

    Kori – LOL, I’ll work on that!

    Dingo – I liked that one too! WY, not since I was a kid…

    Dobegil – Spring will come soon enough, my friend…

    Spleeness – I do believe it is a cholla, but I’m no botanist. Sounds painful, though!

    EastCoastTeacher – Yea for 50!

    MrsChuckBartowski – Um, no, that wouldn’t be me. And, yeah, kinda weird.

    BlakSpring – Thanks for the compliment!

    Aly – I really like the little hikes. Sometimes I miss doing them more!

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