The Devil’s Punchbowl

 My husband likes to meander – which is to say, he can become curious about a road, an intriguing sign, or by some other influence not apparent to others … and then, off we go.  But even if youre not as curious as is he, how can one not be intrigued by a name such as “The Devils Punchbowl“?

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So, as we wandered through the Palmdale area some years ago for some reason that escapes me now, we saw the ‘Devil’s Punchbowl sign, and immediately followed it towards the mountains on a long and winding road.  When we finally arrived at this out-of-the-way “county park natural area”, I was in a state of exhilaration because the spectacular view of the valley behind us; the mountains above us, the geological formations, and a stunning and wholly unanticipated bowl-like canyon.

A big part of the beauty and magic of a place like this is in the discovery itself and disbelief that its only 90 minutes from home. This magnificent canyon resides so close to us and yet we had no idea it existed. I often think of the treasures which are in our midst, but then I have to travel to faraway destinations to find them…

devils 4To get there you have to go through one of the most notorious highways in CA, highway 138, known locally as Deathtrap Highway because of its history of grotesque accidents; further made famous by a David Hockney photographic collage.

Along the way you drive through this small and strange town by the name of Pearblossom, which has one redeeming quality, but more about it later

Since the first discovery, Ive been to devil’s punchbowl several times, and this last Friday I took my son with me to hike the steep one mile (which feels much longer) loop-trail.

Whenever my son visits we try to do something that involves art or hiking, so naturally, I was very excited to share my discovery with him, and the rock formations and canyon were as impressive as before.  I also counted on there being water running through the canyon after rainy season.  (This time the place was beautiful, but it was dry.)

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Outside the parks visitor center we were greeted by three owls perched, and solemn. They seemed pensive and bored.  Later, I had to stop and admire the beauty of the Manzanita trees- their richly colored branches, looking as if someone took a brush and painted them, as we hiked down, and then up the Punchbowl trail.

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The enjoyment of being in nature and marveling at the beauty and serenity of this place was doubled by sharing it with my son, and my pride at being able to “deliver” this unknown canyon to him.

… returning to Pearblossom

As far as were concerned, Pearblossoms claim-to-fame is Valley Hungarian Sausage-Meat, which is obviously a Hungarian meat and sausage deli. Why anyone would open a Hungarian deli in the midst of the desert is beyond me, but were glad they did since we end everything with food this time being no exception.

And this would explain how we came to end our hike with Hungarian sandwiches at this improbable eatery along the southern ridge of the Antelope Valley, in a deli that reminded my son of Budapest, well, kind of…

And once again, as is our custom making sure to reclaim every calorie spent on our hike …

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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Day Trip, Recreation, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Devil’s Punchbowl

  1. Jackie Rosenson says:

    Thanks, Rachel; you helped my brain take a little vacation.

  2. Sue Cox says:

    Thanks, Rachel, for your introduction to this beautiful place. Now I will have to go there. I was struck with the same meandering spirit a weekend or two ago while driving thru Malibu Canyon. I’d stopped to take some pictures of the clouds covering the rainy mountains when it occurred to me that I’ve lived in this area all but 2 years of my life and I hadn’t driven Mulholland Drive further west than Malibu Canyon since I was teenager on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle heading to the Rock House. So off I went in the rain and drizzle through some of the most beautiful scenery I’m sure So. Cal. has to offer. I drove through oak groves, amazing sandstone formations, and exquisite vistas of mountains and meadows, I came upon Encinal Canyon that I’ve heard of many times but never seen. So I turned there and wound my way to the ocean stopping to enjoy some of the most magnificent, moody, rainy-day views of the Pacific and made a promise to myself that I will do this more often. I never stop being amazed at the beauty that surrounds us and how easy it is to take it all for granted. Thanks to your blog, I now have a new place to explore. I’m curious to know why it’s called The Devil’s Punchbowl.

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks for your comment Sue. I wholeheartedly agree with you about being surrounded by so much beauty here in LA and CA. I’m always amazed again and again (and we drive and travel here a lot) by one more place I have not seen. And then visiting places I’ve been to before, enjoying them a second and third time (such as Encinal Canyon), or visiting them when the weather is different and getting to see it through a different lens: A different sky, different flowers and a different fragrance.
      I think it’s called Punchbowl because it’s like the devil punched the earth? Maybe?

  3. ShimonZ says:

    What a beautiful post, Rachel, both the pictures and the description. When I was a young man, and spent a couple of years in California for the sake of my studies, I was very impressed by both the nature of the society there and the natural scenery, which was both a challenge and an inspiration to me. I don’t believe I ever got to this beautiful place, but I am sure that if I had seen the sign to the ‘devil’s punchbowl’, I too, like your husband would have insisted on seeing it. I love your pictures.

    • rachel bar says:

      Thank you Shimon. What a compliment coming from you, as I used my iphone camera to take the pictures. I always tell myself that I should learn more about photography, but I think it’s not meant to be.

  4. Melissa says:

    I’ve taken the kids rock-climbing there. Gorgeous spot! Thanks for the memories 🙂

  5. lylekrahn says:

    So often we miss the beauty and adventures that are nearby. Good reminder.

    • rachel bar says:

      I realize more and more that I travel to faraway places instead of looking at my backyard. I love to travel and explore new places, but traveling in LA, around LA, in CA is extremely satisfying and as beautiful as any other place.

  6. says:

    Amazing photos!!! breathtaking beauty!

  7. Martha Carr says:

    After reading this I have convinced RIchard we need to go immediately! I love discovering the beauty and mystery of a new place filled with natural beauty – especially so close by! There is a trail right up the street from us in Lake Hollywood (well a fire road) that ends in spectacular views of Glendale and the mountains and after a rain there is actually a large waterfall that cascades through the fireroad!

    • rachel bar says:

      Glad that you want to go there. I would suggest going after the winter, when you can see it in all its glory and there’s water there as well.
      We should hike the trail you’ve mentioned!

  8. Martin says:

    You can provide Peter extraordinary anticipation by visiting the Amish area of Pennsylvania. You will find town names such as Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, Big Beaver, Blue Ball, Climax and Zip Down.

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