Devil's Punchbowl Loop
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Trail: 21 miles, 5000ft. vertical gain and loss Time: 2 full days round-trip. Driving: 2 hours on road Difficulty: Long but scenic, one strenuous section: Day 1: 12 miles, Day 2: 10 miles (4000A elevation gain). Season: September-November; March-June (Best)
Relevant Guidebooks & Maps
Go to Topozone.com to get maps of this location.USGS 7.5' Maps: Crystal Lake, Waterman, Juniper,and Valyerrno are available in the OTL Gear room. UsefulGuidebooks: 1OI Hikes in Southern Culi$ornia byJerry Schad includes pieces of this hike with informativedescriptions. Also, John W. Robinson's Trails of the Angeles:100 Hikes in the Sun Gabriels, includes part of thishike and has a somewhat useful map, though not sufficientfor hiking.For the most convenient Ranger Station, after driving9 miles on Highway 2 turn left on National ForestHighway 59 toward "The Pines", this is the only timethere is a paved left turn before Switzer Picnic Area.Also, along Highway 2, 5 miles after you leave the Freeway,there is a Forest Service Facility where you can oftenfind a ranger. Both offices are only open fiom 8:30-4:30.You can call ahead for a permit and arrange to pick it upoutside the office if you are getting in late. Ranger phonenumber at Arroyo Seco Station is (8 1 8) 790- 1 1 5 1.
From Claremont take 1-210 West for 24 miles .to Highway 2. Be careful to stay on 1-210 when it splitsfrom Highway 134. From 1-21 0, exit Highway 2 North(turn right) and drive 9 miles to Switzer visitor center andcontinue on Highway 2 for another 15 miles until youreach Eagles Roost Picnic Area and park there.Rules: Backpackers need both an overnight permit and astove permit. You can get permits at the Ranger Station atSwitzer (see resources).
Devil's Punchbowl is one of the most scenichiking areas in the San Gabriel's. This hike offers variedlandscapes and vegetation, huge alpine panoramicviews, and great wildlife viewing opportunities. Big hornsheep, deer, and many bird species are abundant in thisarea. You might even see a mountain lion or a bear.Leave the Eagles Roost Picnic Area on the PacificCrest Trail going West. Follow the trail for 3 miles untilyou reach the National Recreation Trail, that goes off tothe north. Turn right, following the forest sign towardDevils Punchbowl and Devils Chair (there may or may notbe a sign). The trail gradually ascends 1200ft in the next 3k miles. The next 2 miles descend 2000 feet and you cross ariver. So far you have hiked 8 miles. The next four milesare rolling hills and you will cross several streams. Youcan camp near any of these streams if it is getting late.However, the best campsite is at 12 miles. You will godown a series of switch backs (descending 700A. in 0.8miles) after crossing Devils Chair ( a spectacular rock formationthat you can see from your campsite at sunset). Afterthe switch backs you will come to river. Follow the river upstream 100-200 yards and pick a campsite at least200ft away from the water.On the second day, the first half mile is a gradualdescent, but then you climb 500 feet in a mile. After 2.2miles you will reach the South Fork Campground which ispopular on the weekends. This is the most crowded sectionof the trail. Continue southward from South ForkCampground for 4 miles climbing 2000ft. Here you reachthe Highway 2, but you still have a good hike left. At thesame place you reach the Highway 2 Trailhead the PacificCrest Trail goes to the northwest, follow it. It ascends another1200ft in the next 1.5 miles. Then you descend forthe next mile and cross Highway 2. The last half mile iseasy, and you reach Eagles Roost after a 10 mile hike with4000ft of elevation gain.
Little Jimmy Campground is located one mile pastEagles Roost along Highway 2. It is not the greatest placein the world, but is a reasonable place to camp on Fridaynight in order to get an early start on Saturday morning.Check with the rangers for availability but the campgroundis rarely full.
Edited by (in order): OTL Staff
Last updated: 05/25/2009