Monday, May 23, 2011
Hike 17- Devils Chair
When I was first thinking about coming out to California, I was trying to find some hikes that would interest me. One that immediately jumped out at me was The Devils Chair. Clocking in at 7.5 miles, the hike seemed doable and being outside of LA, seemed like a perfect getaway. I initially did the Devils Punchbowl and being there just made want the Chair more.
So looking through my upcoming calendar, this hike fit perfectly and I knew I must do it.
There is something serene about being the first car in the parking lot. You know to do that, you have gotten there early. My dad always said to hike early and come down during midday and considering I was hiking with my first cousin on this hike, we heeded the family advice very well.
After gearing up with power bars and waters, we hit the trail. The trail goes up slowly but surely through scrub brush, water towers and skirts the edge of the very cool Devils Punchbowl.
Initially this type of trail depressed me because it was so uninspiring and so sunny, I thought I would be spending the whole day trudging through blech. How wrong I was!
The trail eventually makes its way into the mountains and hugs the sides of them tight. The trail narrows to about 3 feet across and pine and flowers start poppin up everywhere.
The woods become thicker and soon you are crossing streams and sniffing some pine (in a totally legal way).
In fact, the woods started taking on a real Maine vibe with the pine needles and the shadows.
Did I mention the shadows?
Devils Chair, while in the mountains, is in the high desert and you are very thankful for the spots of shade the trail affords you. One hint, hike early in the morning like me as the sun really gets overhead quick and many people I saw coming up the trail were working up a good sweat around 10:30/11 in the morning. No such trouble for the early birds.
So you go along the trail for another mile or so and you basically come to a beach. Not a literal one but the sand is unmistakable. At that point you are only a mile or so away from the chair but up close and personal with LIZARDS!
Big ones, small ones, these guys have the run of the place. Their little scurries cause little landslides which make you think about the larger landslides you have seen on the trail. What is very clear is how fragile and soft the rock in that area is. There are many mini-avalanches evident on the trail but the trail was in great shape! Trees were cut,
trails were maintained and improved. Can't give the stewards of the park enough credit for helping to get us hikers around the wilderness.
Speaking of the trails, I have yet to encounter a better signed trail than this one. The trail signs made me think I was on the golf course with yardage markers!
Finally (I know what you saying "C'Mon ADKinLA, get to the ACTUAL Devils Chair, you know, what this article is about?) after hitting the beach for another mile or so, you hit the chair. A crazy place. There is fencing to keep you from tumbling to your doom in the gorges and you basically follow a ledge out INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE GORGE!
Of course, the views are amazing.
If you think you are done with the Devil, well the Devil is not done with you yet. Coming down a beach is fine but climbing back up will get your heart racing and not in a Pamela Anderson circa 1992 way. The mile back up will get your calves burning but in a good way. Its why we hike right?
The sun was reaching higher in the sky as I was hiking lower on the trail back to the now filled parking lot with more dreams of the Devils County Park. I am already lining up a camping/hiking outing in a few months and its not hard as the park keeps me coming back time and time again. While not as close to me as the Verdugos (which I consider my backyard mountains), the Devils are quickly becoming my go to hike here in SoCal. Check out some pics below to help make up your mind after some good links.
Per usual, Modern Hiker was here before and writes much better than I do. His trip report is crucial.
Finally, a great map/website put on by the park itself. http://www.devils-punchbowl.com/pages/map.html
(tree art, soon to be entered into some sort of photo competition even though it will lose by a million miles)
Posted by Peter Flanigan at 7:08 AM