Devil’s Chair from the South Fork Campground

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Dusk in the Devil's Punchbowl
Dusk in the Devil’s Punchbowl
Looking down into the Devil's Punchbowl
Looking down into the Devil’s Punchbowl

Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Devil’s Chair from the South Fork Campground

  • Location: High desert near Pearblossom.  From Pearblossom, take highway 138 east to Longview Road.  Go right and after 2.5 miles, go left on Fort Tejon.  Drive 2.1 miles to Valyermo Road and turn right (south).  Go 2.9 miles and make a right on Big Rock Creek Road.  Drive 3.5 miles and then head right onto the dirt road signed for the South Fork Campground.  The campground is a mile down the road.  A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required.
  • Agency: Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area and Angeles National Forest/Santa Clara & Mojave Rivers Ranger District
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,750 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season:  September – June
  • USGS topo map: “Valyermo”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 8

The Devil’s Chair can be reached from the west, via the Burkhardt Trail, or from the east, starting at the South Fork Campground.  This approach is slightly more challenging, and doesn’t get quite as close to the crazy geology of the Punchbowl, but its isolated location sees fewer crowds.

From the campground, follow the signed trail heading toward the hills and begin a steep switchbacking ascent.  After about a mile, you arrive at a saddle and begin a descent into Holcomb Canyon.  Almost immediately, the trail climbs steeply out of the canyon, eventually reaching the signed spur to the Devil’s Chair.  Beyond the spur, the trail continues, eventually meeting up with the Burkhardt Trail.

The descent to the Devil’s Chair can be a little nerve-wracking, but the final approach–where the slopes fall on both sides–is fenced in.  From the Chair, you get great aerial views of the Devil’s Punchbowl.

In addition to the hike from the Burkhardt Trail and the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area parking lot, the Punchbowl can also be reached by a point-to-point hike.

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