About the Park
The Devil's Punchbowl County Park consists of 1,310 acres and was opened in December 1963. Click Here to see the dedication of the nature center. The forty acres where the nature center is located was once in private ownership and was purchased by the County of Los Angeles because of its unique features. Surrounding U.S. Forest Service lands were then added to enhance the park. The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation now operates this area as one of its Natural Areas facilities. The ranger on duty or volunteer naturalist will be happy to assist you and answer any questions that you may have. The Devil's Punchbowl Nature Center is designed to assist you in learning more about the flora, fauna, and the geological features of the park. The most conspicuous features of the park are geological. The Punchbowl is a deep canyon cut by the runoff of large quantities of water from the higher San Gabriel Mountains occurring over a long period of time. These mountain peaks above the park are 8,000 feet in elevation while the Nature Center is located at 4,740 feet above sea level. The Punchbowl Canyon is 300 feet deep below the vista point. The peculiar uptilted rock formations to be seen in the entire area are layers of sedimentary rocks that were formed long ago by the depositing of loose material in horizontal layers by water. Later they were squeezed into their present steeply-tilted form by the continuing action of uplift along the Punchbowl and Pinyon Faults and pressures along the San Andreas Fault. The Punchbowl Fault is to the south of the rock formation while the Pinyon and San Andreas Faults are to the north. A detailed description of the process theories is available in handout form from the Nature Center. In any area, the predominant plants contribute greatly to the particular "look" of the landscape. One rewarding way to look at plants is through the plant community approach. You may have noticed on your drive to the park that further down in the flat-lands of the Antelope Valley there was almost a complete absence of large shrubs or trees. The road then climbs into a belt of Joshua Trees and California Junipers. As you entered the park boundaries, the Joshuas were left behind and you entered a region dominated by Pinyon Pine Woodland, with shrubs of the Desert Chaparral as an understory. The streambeds, both of the Punchbowl Creek at the bottom of the bowl and the other watercourses down in the Antelope Valley, have their own type of vegetation with cottonwoods, willows and other plants that required more water. The next plant community above is the Coulter Pines and Yellow Pine forest of the higher San Gabriel Mountains. Above these trees you can see the White Firs silhouetted against the sky on the high slopes and peaks. Many types of mammals live here but most are nocturnal, or night active, and are seldom seen. Gray foxes may sometimes be seen in the early mornings or at dusk and you may occasionally see a deer crossing the road. Chipmunks and California ground squirrels are active during most of the day. A few of the common birds are on display. Many additional species migrate through the area at various times of the year. The reptile and amphibian fauna of the park represents a unique blend of the types found in the deserts and in the mountains. Examples of some of the more commonly seen reptiles and amphibians are on display. Rattlesnakes are a common inhabitant but are leery of people and are rarely encountered. Insects and spiders are seasonally abundant. They may be seen on flowers and shrubs throughout the park, especially during the spring and summer. A representative collection of the various orders of insects is on display. To get a closer look at the many natural features of the park, we encourage you to take a walk on the trails. The self-guiding "Pinyon Pathway" trail is about a third of a mile and only takes a few minutes to read the brochure and walk the trail. A one mile "Loop Trail" is longer and quite strenuous with a 300 foot elevation drop into the canyon and back to the top above the picnic area and parking lot. A much longer trail to the Devil's Chair and the eastern canyons of the park is also available. This trail is 3.7 miles to the Devil's Chair or about 7 1/2 miles round trip and approximately 4 hours hiking time.