A few years ago, I was introduced to the Devil’s Punchbowl by a few friends. The hike is beautiful during the spring and fall times, but can get far too hot during the summer when the temperatures can easily reach over 100 degrees. The hike is 2.2 miles each way, so 4.4 miles round trip with a 800 foot elevation difference. The hike is downhill on the way there and uphill on the way back. People often don’t realize how hard and far the hike is and get dehydrated. There usually are several rescues a year for people with heat exhaustion.
The hike to the falls is located in between Ramona and Julian behind the San Diego Country Estates. It is about a 45 minute drive from the Rancho Bernardo exit on the 15 freeway. There is a small parking lot off of Thornbush Road in Ramona. There is also some parking on the street as well. The trail head is clearly marked on the east side of the road. From the road head straight down to the bottom of the valley, across a small stream and then onto the punchbowl.
For the GPS users out there, the coordinates for the punchbowl are:
The hike down to the falls is fairly easy. It’s going back up the long hill that is hard for some people. Always bring plenty of water, especially during the summer. I would recommend at least 2 Liters or more per person. I bring a water purifier down with me to fill up my water bottle and other people’s who inevitably run out of water when the may it to the bottom.
This is a great place to take a dip during the summer with the temperatures rise into the 80′s and up to the 100′s. On the right rear side of the water there is a rope swing which is fun to use. There are also several ledges to jump off of into the pool. [WARNING] Jumping into the pull from any of the rock ledges is EXTREMELY dangers and several people have been killed over the years by doing it, including one this year. I recommend against jumping in unless you know how to jump into shallow pools of water. Use your best judgment.[/WARNING] That being said, make sure if you do decide to do a little cliff jumping, make sure where you jump is deep enough first by swimming down and checking the depth. It is usually deepest closer to the waterfall.
During the spring and early summer months it can get quite crowded at the area by people trying to escape the heat by swimming in the water but want to do a hike at the same time. It is best to start the hike in the morning so you can get down to beat the sun. Some things to bring are: Hiking boots and sandals, sunscreen, bathing suit, water filter.
On my scale, I would give this a 4+. It is a great hike with a great place to rest and relax at the end of it. I would highly recommend it!
As always, please be careful exploring and ALWAYS tell someone where you are going. If you want any more information on this location, don’t hesitate to contact me. Patrick@abandonedsandiego.com