Devil’s Punch Bowl: A Pathway To Paradise

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Devil’s Punch Bowl is roughly a 6-mile hike located in the outskirts of east San Diego county, featuring a seasonal waterfall (during the Spring and Summer months) and a deep swimming hole. The beginning of the hike starts off very steep and will be like that for about 3 miles until you reach the creek.

The creek is narrow to cross and you have to walk on unstable rocks and branches. You WILL get your feet wet while crossing these creeks so make sure to bring comfortable shoes and a change of socks. (Note: If you have had a prior injury recently and you’re trying to get back in the hiking groove, this hike may not be suitable you.) As you get closer to the punchbowl, there will be a few boulder rocks that you will have to maneuver through, so be prepared to get your hands dirty. After you’ve overcome several obstacles, and you’ve reached the punchbowl, there are several shady areas to enjoy some lunch or snacks.

There are a few spots that you can cliff jump off of, as well as a rope to swing off of located near “cave,” just be cautious of the slippery rocks. The way back is an uphill battle, so make sure to save your water for the last stretch of the hike, as that is when you will most need it. Whether you are in shape and hike regularly, or looking for a challenge, this hike will be great for you!

Best Time to Visit

Creek along the way

This hike is wonderful to do year-round as there are beautiful wildflowers along the way and a couple of creeks to bypass before entering devils punch bowl. Along the hike, you will see cottonwood, willow, oak and sycamore trees that lie in the back part of San Diego county. Temperatures can rise up to 115 degrees in the summer, so make sure to bring plenty of water with you. The best time to bring your dog to this trail is not during the summer, as there has been several cases of them overheating. If you do plan on bringing your dog during the summer months, start early in the morning before temperatures rise. The best time to visit is between April – June, when temperatures aren’t scorching hot and the weather is warm enough to swim. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water!

Parking and Regulations

Overall, this hike has some wide-open views of the back country of San Diego County and is perfect for all levels. There are two trail options to get to Devil’s Punch Bowl. One is from Ramona and the other trail starts in Julian.

Eagle Peak Rd
Julian, CA 92036

15531 Thornbush Road
Ramona, CA 92065

As a heads up, you will need to purchase a parking permit for the day, when you enter the Julian location. Permits usually cost around $6. The lot is based on reservations upon availability and is limited to 75 permits a day. The earlier you get there the better. For more information on permits, visit the Cleveland National Park webpage.

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