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May 4th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Who says a getaway has to be expensive? For the price of a few gallons of gas and a picnic lunch, a friend and I recently had an exciting day at Devil’s Punchbowl Nature Area in the city of Pearblossom.
I discovered the park while perusing “Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels,” one of my favorite resource guides to hiking the San Gabriel Mountains. The book lists the Devils Punchbowl at number 68 and discusses the park’s one-mile-long Loop Trail and its fascinating geological history along the San Andreas Fault Line.
“Many interesting features lie along this monumental earthquake fault system, but none so strange as the fantastic jumble of whitish rocks known as the Devils Punchbowl,” describes the book. “Within this mile-wide depression rise row upon row of weathered sandstone blocks, many of them tilted so as to resemble plates standing on edge, others folded and broken like huge slices of fancy pudding.”
With images of punchbowls and pudding running through my head, I called an old high school friend and we drove 75 miles from Pasadena to the park.
Our getaway began at the visitor center, located at 4,740 feet above sea level. Here we came face to face with a live, fluffy barn owl, perched on a stand in the lobby, bobbing is head and staring at everybody who entered. Near the bird we encountered a desert tortoise strolling around the floor and a woman wearing a long gopher snake like a scarf. We also saw glass cases with more snakes and other small native animals, a collection of large mammal skulls, a geologic display, and maps of the area.
From the visitors center we walked down a dirt path, to the start of the mile-long Loop Trail trial. This trail features a 300 foot elevation drop to the canyon floor and then a climb back up to the parking lot area. Along the hike, visitors are afforded spectacular views of the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountain range as they explore the 1,310-acre Devils Punchbowl Park.
The Punchbowl is a deep canyon cut by the runoff of large quantities of water from the higher San Gabriel Mountains occurring for millions of years, exposing layers of sedimentary rocks formed into giant unique shapes.
Besides incredible rock formations, the trail is highlighted by a wealth of plants and trees. On our hike we past sycamores, alder, cottonwood and willows trees, as well as plants such as scrub oak, sagebrush, yucca, and chaparral. We also discovered a flowing stream at the bottom of the punchbowl, where we relaxed on rocks and had lunch.
While eating we watched a group of rock climbers scale a sheer rock face and then disappear into a narrow chasm.
Devils Punchbowl County Park is located at 28000 Devils Punchbowl Rd., Pearblossom Ca. 93553. Park hours are sunrise to sunset. Nature Center is open 8am – 4pm. Admission and parking is Free. For more info on visiting, call or visit www.devils-punchbowl.com or call (661) 944-2743.
By Greg Aragon