Hike to the Devil’s Chair

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Saturday, May 9th, 2015


After a trip out to the mountains the day before on my travel blog post: Winter in Spring 2015, I decided to take my parents out for a hike to the Devil’s Chair located in at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area. I had done this trail once before when I was 60lbs heavier and completely out of shape and I remember feeling like I was going to pass out, so I wanted to make sure and create a reasonable pace with many breaks along the way for my parents. The elevation of the region is 4,750 ft at the ranger’s station, however our trip would start from an alternate route via the South Fork Camp which is essentially located in the backyard of the Devil’s Punchbowl.

The hike from this point is approximately a 7.4 miles with 3,182ft of elevation gain. The trail ranges from 4,600ft – 5,000ft of elevation.
From South Fork Camp you will go up then down then up again before you reach the Devil’s Chair, then back down, then up then down on the return.

“You must display an Adventure Pass on your vehicle to park at South Fork Camp.”

“The recent storm generated a little water in some areas along the creek bed, but It’s still a far cry from the years before when the water would rage through here”

“My mom and dad are ready to take on this new trail to the Devil’s Chair”

Devil’s Chair Trailhead via South Fork

( Devil’s Chair Trailhead via South Fork coordinates 34.3945668°N , -117.8223864°W )

The trailhead to the Devil’s Chair is not clearly marked, but If you click on the link above, I have it marked on Google Maps. A visual marker you can also use is essentially what appears to be the largest dead tree standing in the creek bed rock which is about 50ft or so from the trailhead.

“This small rock, and dirt bridge is the start of the trail to the Devil’s Chair, find this and you’re golden”

“Some of the first notable things were the flowers, there were many blooming along the trail that day”


“At a half a mile in, the trail became narrow, but very scenic and the rocks along the side were very intriguing”

“This rock looked like some kind of ancient lake sediment smashed and fossilized between two layers of sandstone, one of the rocks had rings like a tree”

“After about a mile in, we reached the saddle for a break and check out the scenery on the other side”

“The rock was very interesting and likely so as we were walking directly over a fault line. The trail onward was even narrower than the previous”

“As we hit the switchbacks down from the saddle, the Punchbowl’s backyard rocks comes into view”

“My mom’s favorite foliage out here is the Manzanita which is an evergreen shrub that produces fruit in the Spring, but some species of it are not edible”

“I’m just having a great old time here”

“Eventually we arrived at a second creek bed which was mostly dry except for some water trickling beneath the rocks”

“We started our second ascent to the Devil’s Chair”

“The hike up to the Devil’s Chair from the second creek bed was challenging and steep with metal grating to support the softer portions of the trail”

“During another break, my parents took notice of where we were in relation to our destination, it was going to be more uphill climbing from here”

“It was from this point that I showed my dad where we took our first break at the saddle and he was surprised to see just how much we hiked”

“After about 3 miles, we finally hit the junction point where the Burkhart Trail meets the South Fork Trail”

“We were on the last leg of our hike and pushed on to get to the Chair”

“The metal fencing and grating was very present here as the footing in some areas was a soft composition of sand and gravel”

“We finally arrived and it soon became clear that the fence had good reason, the drop on either side was a few hundred feet down to say the least”

“The view of the Devil’s Punchbowl from here was quite remarkable”

“Here is a quick video I shot of the descent to the Devil’s Chair from the entry point”

“My parents are definitely feeling victorious to have been able to take on this alternate, yet formidable trail to the Chair”

“These steps have seen their share of foot traffic over the years”

“The haze in the sky of a setting sun looked beautiful on the mountains”

“I was happy to see that my parents were having such a good time”

“A long day out, some sore muscles, and a whole lot of fun later, we started our way home for a well deserved meal”

Although this break from work was a short one, I have to say that I did my best to make every day worth it’s weight in priceless memories and this was just one of many that I hope to make and preserve with my mother and father in the years to come. I am so proud that they took on such a difficult trail and toughed it all the way to the end =)
That’s it for this travel blog, hope to see you here on the next adventure and until then, remember to always “Shoot the Planet!”


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